In feedback discussions, have you ever heard:

  • You need to focus on more strategic issues.
  • Why do you send emails so late at night and on the weekends?
  • I’d like to engage you in this new important initiative, but you have so much on your plate.

Simultaneously, are you saying to yourself:

  • It’s just faster if I do it myself.
  • I don’t want to dump this task on her.
  • He’s got a lot going on already.

Often, the high performers who want to receive more meaningful work are the very ones struggling to delegate work to others.  It’s a common managerial paradox.

A simple mindset shift helps us work through the paradox.  I call it “delegrow.”  It is impossible–absolutely impossible–for you to develop others if you do not delegate work that allows them to grow.  Conversely, it is impossible–absolutely impossible–for you to develop yourself if you are not delegated work that allows you to grow.  But how can you take on more without giving more to others?

Delegation doesn’t mean “shove this off on someone else.”  Delegation means “appoint as my representative.”  We are too often afraid that we’ll be seen as the bad boss dumping busy work on already-busy people.  Or we, ourselves, are so busy, it’s a waste of time to stop and involve others.  This faulty thinking works against our very goals to grow others and grow ourselves.

If we all have the mindset of “delegrow,” we will be asking two different questions:

  • What activities could I assign to my team to build their skills, their knowledge, their networks, their sense of ownership?
  • What activities should I be seeking to grow myself?

Yes, some brown stuff does roll downhill sometimes.  The truth is, not all work is strategic and sexy.  Tedious, crappy assignments exist at all levels.  But, what may be crappy data clean-up work to you, could be an opportunity for someone else to learn the company’s chart of accounts.  What may be mind-numbing slide editing to you, could be a chance for someone else to hone their executive presentation skills…and they may even be happy doing it on a Sunday because they get exposure to the leadership team.  

We each need a mindset that growth comes from delegation.  What will you now be delegating to help someone grow?