A new leader faces this dilemma often. “Should I do the task myself, train my team, or delegate it?” I am sure you have encountered the same puzzle before. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The problem is more common than you think.
When I started my first venture, I wanted to do everything myself.
If a task was too hard, I feared to assign it to a team member. “What if they mess up?” I asked myself biting my fingernails. If a task required grooming people, I would think, “Well, doing the job myself will take lesser time than training.”
For a large project, I wanted to involve myself down to the very last detail.
Do these examples sound like the situation you’re into right now? Let me tell you what happened to my story. Such behavior of mine severely crippled the team. I failed to utilise the talent people had. Over time, the business failed.
Common mental blocks for leaders
Leaders have different mental barriers in their heads. I will list out three of the most common ones. These are more prominent in people who take up a leadership role after being an expert technician in a specific field. An individual contributor has difficulty shifting his mindset from executing tasks to leading people.
1. I can do the job myself
When a task needs action, you start evaluating the ease of completing the job against the effort required to train people. Since you have spent years developing expertise, you will need lesser time to do it yourself than training a new person. The joy which comes out of doing the job yourself also plays a role.
The first time I played the role of a leader was for a team of programmers. I had loved writing code since my teenage years. All of a sudden, I felt uncomfortable training the team members to do the job. My hands were itching to do some programming myself.
2. I need to be the expert
Leaders have trouble accepting the fact that team members can know more about a topic than they do. You believe the leader has to be the most talented person in the team.
During our business venture, I wanted to learn every technology in extreme detail. I intended to be capable enough to answer any query the team had. I spent most of my time developing expertise in programming even after I took up a leadership role.
3. The team member won’t deliver the same quality
Leaders often hesitate to delegate tasks because they fear that the team member will perform an average job.
You feel that even if you train a team member, he won’t deliver the quality you can. You forget that when you started as a beginner, you weren’t as capable as you are right now. To ensure things don’t go wrong, you take up the task yourself.
I had the habit of taking up all the tougher portions of programming myself. I wasn’t trying to brag about my abilities. I thought the team members wouldn’t accomplish the task. Due to that mental barrier, I never even tried assigning the harder tasks to the team members.
When should a leader solve, train, and delegate:
You cannot keep doing all the tasks yourself forever. Over time, you will become a bottleneck and prevent yourself from achieving great things.
Try taking a page of the successful leaders of large organisations. They relinquished control and tapped into the talent of people to achieve greatness. A great leader sets the vision and achieves it with teamwork. Even the famous movie stars, sports icons, and singers have a massive team working for them.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go f