Ray Titus is CEO of United Franchise Group (UFG), a global leader for entrepreneurs with brands in over 1,600 locations in 60 countries.
When you’re the boss, it can be tough to give up some of your projects, which can feel like giving up power. Entrepreneurs are often control freaks, thinking no one else can do what they do as well as they do it. Sometimes they’re right, but often they’re wrong. If you’re not giving up some of your work and delegating it to others on your team, you’re likely making a big mistake—for yourself and your company.
I learned the value of delegating early in my company’s life. In those days, I did the company’s collections, but once we hired someone and I delegated it, collections improved. So did the business, because I could spend more time on growth—which is the real job of the person at the top.
I won’t sugarcoat it: Delegating can be challenging. You must give up control and trust the other person to do the job right. You might even have to accept that they won’t do it as well as you would, which can lead you to worry that they’ll make you look bad.
The simple answer, of course, is to train someone in the task so they can match your ability and follow your high standards. It will probably take longer than if you continued doing the job, but if you train correctly, you’ll only have to spend that time once. For added confidence, document the training so the next person won’t even have to ask.
There are many reasons to pass on the tasks you’ve been keeping for yourself. For me, there are three:
1. You get more done.
As the leader of your team or the entire organization, delegation frees you up to do more important things. When you don’t have to worry about day-to-day tasks, you can focus on the big-picture items that will take your company forward.
Let’s take a project like the annual company meeting. When you assign someone else to plan and execute it, you can focus on crafting the vision you want to communicate at the conference—without constantly being interrupted to approve details like the program and the lunch menu.
With smart delegation, you can spend more time on higher-level things and develop creative ways to build your business. But you’ll also be able to take time for personal development—vacations, exercising, reading. Those pursuits not only enhance your personal life but also keep you refreshed so you can lead more effectively.
2. It’s good for your company.
There’s actual data on the connection between delegation and company success. In 2015, Gallup surveyed 143 CEOs on the Inc. 500 list and found that “companies run by executives who effectively delegate authority grow faster, generate more revenue and create more jobs.” This has been 100% true in my company for over 38 years.
It’s pretty simple: If you don’t delegate, you’re destined to run a small business.
It makes sense. When senior leaders are free to focus on the larger vision, the company can only grow—not just by giving executives more time to focus on the big picture but also by bringing in a new perspective. Delegating to your team members also benefits your team.
3. It helps your team grow.
I’ve often said that leadership is a tool that has to be sharpened regularly to work right. If you don’t trust your team to manage some of your projects, how will they become better leaders?
I believe strongly in lifelong learning, and effective leadership and team building are skills everyone must learn to advance in an organization. By holding employees back from developing these skills, you’re holding your company back, too.
So, where do I start?
Don’t worry—you can still keep the projects you enjoy or are especially good at; plan to keep the highest-level tasks, of course. Look at the items that significantly increase sales or decrease expenses and stay involved with those. Push other things to people who are better suited to them: booking appointments, organizing production areas, maintenance and the like.
Be sure you’re assigning the tasks based on who is most qualified for them, not because the job bores you. Not every job can be glamorous and exciting all day long, not even the CEO job. Delegating only the less attractive work can deflate your employees’ initiative, and they will leave.
Ready, set, delegate.
As the owner or senior leader of the organization, you must have time to think and plan for your company’s future. Your future planning should include coaching employees to handle some of the work that takes you away from that role.
Remember, you’re not Superman or Wonder Woman. If you must get in early and stay late just to get basic things done, it’s past time to delegate.