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Barriers to Delegation

Few leaders will argue that delegation isn’t important. They know that it is necessary for team and individual development, and that the leader can’t do everything in a team. Some leaders are keenly aware that they need to delegate more but still struggle to do it. Common reasons I hear are “I don’t have time” or “it’s faster if I do it myself”. Are these just short-sighted leaders? Or is there something else behind the hesitation to delegate? Here are some deeper reasons why I found I struggled with delegation at times:

1. Pride – Some tasks brought some exposure, recognition, or status that I was reluctant to let go of. Another form of pride was the occasional belief that only I can do it ‘right’. It’s strange how I can’t remember feeling that way about tasks I didn’t like to do.

2. Fear – In certain situations, I was held back by a reluctance to ask someone for help. At times that was because I didn’t want to show weakness but sometimes it was anticipating pushback from the employee. I felt discomfort at times making assignments to people I used to work with as a peer.

3. Trust – Meaningful delegation requires trust in the intention, integrity, and competence of your team. There were times where my trust was lacking and sadly, when you don’t give trust, you also don’t tend to receive it back. This is a lesson I had to learn from experience.

Are there other barriers to delegation that you have seen in yourself or others? What are some solutions to these barriers?

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