Nathan admitted to me, “I hesitate to delegate because everyone is too busy to take on more work.”

James didn’t delegate because, “No one will do the way I want, to my standard.”

Joyce shared with me that she felt like she couldn’t’ control the situation, especially if it all went wrong.

These are valid roadblocks underpinned by valid fears preventing them from delegating. In delegating I find managers fall into different approaches..

Leaders who are turned out or not focused on the benefits of delegating and as such miss out, will find themselves drained at the end of the day and they will also contribute to an environment that’s draining for their people. We all know the dictator simply wears (burns) everyone out! Fears such as failing, loss of control, being shown up, making the wrong decision; imposter syndrome, perfectionism, and trust all show up as fears that get in the way of delegating or delegating success.

It’s more than okay to have these feelings but as a leader, a people leader, it’s your responsibility to do something about them.

Enter self-management and self-leadership!

The greater your self-awareness the quicker you can identify what’s triggering you and implement strategies to minimise, if not eliminate, the fear or roadblock.


1. Learn how to delegate

A lack of structure to your delegating can be a trigger and can be easily fixed. With a structured process, comes confidence and a sense that everything and everyone is in control.

Stop guessing! Managers and leaders often feel as though they need to have all the answers to every issue that arises, including how to delegate successfully, even when they’ve never been trained. Learning how to delegate is like learning how to drive a car or ride a bicycle – you go from not knowing what you don’t know to an awareness of just how much you don’t know … these are aware you are very wobbly and get some bruises! As you build and strengthen your skills and confidence you are acutely aware of what you know and maybe push your luck a bit … again you might get a bruise or two but you were courageous enough to try something new! And once you have been doing this for some time, it’s like you forgot how you learned, you just know. The point is that no one is born knowing how to delegate.

It’s interesting to note that in a study conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, 46% of 332 polled companies are concerned with their workers delegation skills, yet only 28% conducted delegation training.

(Check out the full online DELEGATE course here.)

2. Learn how to let go

Leaders think they have to have all the answers, including how to empower, engage and MOTIVATE their people.

Amongst the strategies I share with leaders in my presentations and workshops, is the beginners mind and quality questions. Asking questions with true, sincere curiosity and interest will reap you many rewards such as your people more actively engaged in the problem solving requests that they bring to you.


3. Learn yourself and your people

The success of your leadership will come down to the relationships you have with yourself, your work and your team. Any attention you give to improving your self-awareness and your interpersonal relationships will have a ripple effect on your leadership.

Knowing yourself equips with you with being able to learn and discern your people. Increased self-confidence leads to focusing on others rather than what others are thinking about you. Personality and behavioural insights tools are great for helping you to learn more about yourself.

For example, in the Motivators assessment, you have seven values that will indicate your motivators / drivers. Imagine Regulatory was a highly scored value for you, this would indicate a you are energised by routine, order, and setting boundaries for yourself and others. If taken to the extreme this might lead to micromanaging which is often triggered when delegating has not been set up properly. Alternatively, if this is a low scored value, meaning you could be quite defiant and remaining independent of, as opposed to depending on the restrictive ideas of others. In the context of delegating, as a low score and taken to the extreme you could get you and your people into hot water if you delegate work that really should not be delegated.

When you know yourself, you are better placed to understand others.

If delegating is a hiccup for you, or for a leader you know, reflect on these questions:

  • What stops you from delegating?
  • What is driving that block? What fears or concerns underpin your avoidance of delegating?
  • If you’ve delegated before, what emotions did you experience throughout the process?
  • If you have delegated to, what emotions did you experience throughout the process?

Be present to these reflections as they can give you valuable insight into how you avoid or approach delegating and how those you delegate to may experience the process.