Why Leaders Don’t Delegate?

Failure to delegate will always limit a leader. Instead of looking outward at the horizon, thinking about what was happening in the marketplace, with their customer and vendors, and instead of thinking about how they would build their team, leaders spent their time looking downward, immersed in the details of work at the level below them.
So why do some leaders fail to delegate? Was this simply an issue of skills? After working so hard to be recognized and promoted, would a leader continue to do the work of the level below them? There must be a good reason.

These justifications are most often heard from supervisors who choose not to delegate and get work done through others:

  1. Insecurity
    Some leaders worry that they will be perceived as disposable if others do some of the critical work. Their lack of security often means that they will hoard assignments even if they do not get done.
  2. Ease ability
    Sometimes, it is always easier to get the task done by yourself rather explaining, supervising, directing, instructing and handling over the task to somebody else and following up with them again and again to check their progress and make the required adjustments to their final work.
  3. Ego
    It’s the inability of some managers to face the failure/limitations, they believe this would be against their dignity if they give up/assign the task to somebody else and people would consider them a failure, the fear of which, doesn’t let them delegate.
  4. Not Enough Time
    It is ironic, but true. The very thing we don’t have time to do is what will eventually give us more time. Getting started is often the hardest part. When will we find the time to recruit, train & keep track of what others are doing?
  5. Inability to Delegate
    Effective delegation requires more than making work assignments. It isn’t done solely for the purpose of offloading menial tasks. Effective delegation isn’t about picking and choosing based on current capabilities and workload.
  6. Resistance to Change
    Some Leaders would rather do the things they’ve always done because they are comfortable doing so. If they delegated their routine tasks, they would have to move out of their comfort zones to take on new challenges which they would not.
  7. Not Getting Credit
    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy some praise every once in a while. For some of us, this is more important than others. But ultimately, this motivation is simply self-centered. If I’m not releasing others to lead, manage or ‘do’ because I’m addicted to back patting, then what I’m really saying is that I’m more important than the potential team I have sitting around me.
  8. Analysis paralysis
    If they or a subordinate take on a task, the leader wants to look at it from every angle. They are famous for preparing 80-page documents when six or seven pages would suffice. They think they are preparing for every contingency when such a feat is impossible.
  9. You Can Do It better
    At the beginning, this is almost always true. It’s also probably the number one reason why we don’t delegate. Years ago, a mentor told me this. If someone else can do it 80% as well as you, it’s probably worth releasing it to them. Here’s the key: as long as I’m committed to equipping and training them, this can work. Over the years I’ve watched a lot of great people rise far above their leaders. But they rarely began that way. It didn’t happen until those leaders took the risk and let them struggle and fail at times.
  10. No Priority
    If they did, they would make certain that the most important tasks were accomplished. Instead they often spend time on minutiae that makes little difference. They do not realize that delegating the task enhances team building and they do not prioritize team building.
    Leaders who fail to delegate have at least 1 or more of these characteristics given. The inability to delegate inevitably leads to failure of the leadership.

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