The sexiest word in the English language

Blog | December 29, 2020

What if I told you, it’s OKAY not to be good at everything? (Particularly, the work you hate doing.)

Even better: what if… you didn’t have to DO any of those things? 

Which leads me, ladies and gentlemen, to the sexiest word in the English language: delegation.

The most successful leaders on the planet agree.

The problem is, in our “if you want it done right, do it yourself” culture, it’s considered almost better to struggle alone than rely on someone else.

And very often, the leaders who rise to the top (like you) have done so because of the varied skill sets they mastered. And their capacity to DO all of the things.

But what got you here, isn’t what will get you to your next level as a leader, wielding your influence and impact with less effort and less stress.

In the past, defining where you excelled (or didn’t) was a powerful indicator of what you needed to improve. Now… those are the tasks you should hand off. Immediately

Instead of trying to get better at the things you suck at, delegate them.

Ah, delegating. I know. It’s a frankly boring-sounding word that represents one of the most critical, sexiest skills you can and must develop as a leader.

Usually, when I first talk about this topic with a group of my tech leaders, that’s when I get the eye rolls and yawns. Yeah, yeah, gotta delegate more. 

I get it. I’m a high achiever myself, and delegating does NOT come easily. 

We tend to set unrealistic expectations for ourselves: nothing short of perfection in all the things that we do.

But: if, as a tech leader, you find yourself hiding, rather than admitting, your limitations… Or quietly, miserably, slogging through things you aren’t great at—or worse, avoiding them altogether… You aren’t alone

AND, it’s getting in the way of your being the best leader you can be.

Perfectionism runs rampant at the highest levels of any organization, but especially among tech leaders in an industry that requires precision, from data to engineering. 

When a line of code could derail your software or crash your e-commerce empire, it’s no wonder.

Identifying where you are mediocre at best, however, is not only more realistic and less stressful than the opposite, it’s key leadership information. 

Ideally, what a leader needs to do is identify their zone of genius, those skills and talents that come to you easily, without effort. Then, outsource and delegate responsibilities and tasks that fall outside that zone of genius.

Sounds simple, right?

Theoretically, yes. (Not to worry, we won’t leave you hanging; in future articles, we’ll dive deeper into exactly how to identify and embrace your zone of genius, as well as your zone of mediocrity.)

The point here is that we got to where we are because we are such high achievers. Keyword: achieve. 

We’re doers. So it feels like a cop out, like we’re “sending shit downhill,” as one of my executives put it, if we don’t suck it up and do the thing ourselves. 

There are two things to remember (and two reasons why delegating is so sexy):

One – if you’re busy spending your time on things that take you longer because you’re not great at them, for ho-hum results anyway… You’re literally stealing time away from your ability to be a great leader. You’re “in the weeds” instead of leading.

And two – and I hear this a lot: “Who would want to do this?” We assume that because we don’t like to do something, no one else does. And here is where we’re wrong.

If you’ve chosen your team wisely, their strengths complement yours, and each other’s. You’ve specifically chosen the people who excel where you don’t.

So, don’t hold back: Delegate to them.

If you have “no time,” or bring work home with you, it’s a telltale sign that you’re not delegating enough. We help senior tech executives gain their time and lives back while becoming leaders of influence and impact. Click here to book a complimentary discovery call to learn more.

Rachel Rider
Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant