“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” John C. Maxwell
“Focus on what you are good at; delegate all else. Steve Jobs doesn't direct animated movies or woo Wall Street. He concentrates on what he's good at.” Leander Kahney
I have a lot of experience in educating people. I have coached new executives, taught hundreds of students to prepare for the PMP® Exam and mentored scores of future leaders. The one strategic skill that almost everyone struggles with is delegation.
I believe this is because there is a genuine fear of allowing someone else to make decisions and take action that can directly impact your work. This is even reflected in the often heard cautionary statement that “you can delegate responsibility, not accountability.”
That sounds ominous!
Decades ago, I worked for an executive who was new to that role. I was a direct subordinate, but actually had more experience because my former job was as a senior staff person to a much more highly placed executive. I noticed that no document, report or analysis got past this new executive without being modified in some way.
It was very annoying.
Time passed and we found ourselves traveling together, and as often happens guards came down as we were forced to spend hours together. I asked her why she felt compelled to change everything that came across her desk, and her answer was enlightening! She said that this was a huge opportunity, and she wanted every product to be the “best it could be”. I asked her if her input was actually making it better, or just different? I also said that everybody has ideas, and wasn’t difference of thought and technique actually what defined diversity?
She told me that she was trying to add value, to which I said that it must be a terrible burden to have to add value to everything!
She agreed, and over time loosened her grip on the operation. Making a change like that is difficult, and I really admired her for that. Over time, people came to understand her perspective and her star performers began to excel.
And her life became much easier!
Next I’ll discuss how the Project Management Plan allow the Project Manager to become the ultimate delegator. At least the effective ones!
My second oldest daughter is graduating from college in a few weeks. While I am very happy for her, it is a bittersweet happiness. My oldest daughter was very driven and knew what she wanted to do with her life since she was 16, and when she graduated high school she was off to college miles from my home. My second oldest daughter took more time to figure it all out, and as a result has stayed in our home as she completed her studies. I got a chance to spend a lot of time with her as she developed into a fully formed human being. She has a great degree and will no doubt be a success, but I sure will miss having her around.