In a recent LinkedIn post, Richard Branson wrote about delegation in leadership.
He began, “The art of delegation has its roots in accepting perfect isn’t always possible.”
And here, in this first line is where the heart of delegation and good leadership lies. To effectively lead a team, no matter how perfect you think you are at it, is understanding where your shortfalls are and learning to delegate responsibility to fill in the gaps.
You are not perfect and that is ok.
The question is, is the delegation the difficult part, or is it first admitting that you can no do it all yourself––you are not, in fact, perfect. And that is not a bad thing.
Harvard Business Review says, in a great article on delegation as a leadership style,
“The difference between an effective leader and a super-sized individual contributor with a leader’s title is painfully evident.”
Pretty funny, and very true. Your job as a leader is not to be the best at everything. It’s to be good at what you’re good at, but even better at realising who in your team is good at what. Delegation.
And delegation isn’t just to preserve your own stamina. Of course, that’s a huge part of it–– remembering when we try and do everything ourselves, we inevitably fall short eventually. But it’s not all of it. They refer to the delegation as a “leadership style.” It’s an inclusive style. It can actually build morale within your team. Boost productivity. Promote better engagement. And it’s a superpower too.
The minute you offload one of your own responsibilities, you not only give yourself more room to move––be better at your other tasks––it will give the task itself a better chance. By allowing another team member to own that particular task or responsibility is like breathing new life in to it. It’s an incredible tool to have.
So how does one move seamlessly from the perfectionism belief to one of being comfortable with delegation?
It takes reprogramming and mindset training. If you are a perfectionist, you have probably trained yourself to be that way, and this might be a difficult thing to overcome if you’re not willing to do it consciously. But if you are willing, it won’t take long.
Here are three small steps toward changing your perfectionist mindset:
1. Evaluate Priorities.
The start of “letting go” is realising what is a true priority and what can be left to someone else to worry about. By removing some of your perceived priorities you’ll be giving yourself a chance to feel less than perfect and once you get used to how good that feels, it will much easier to delegate in the future.
Clarify what are the five most important priorities in your personal and/or business life. Then take away one of them. Get comfortable with letting go of that one priority and the transformation will begin…
2. Stop when you reach “good enough.”
Realise when striving for perfection, you will never even get close to feeling “good enough.” This will take a lot of practice but start to use this technique in all areas of your life and it will eventually get easier. Start to see “good enough” as excellence.
Say these out loud every time you feel uncomfortable with letting go;
• “Perfection is being right. Excellence is being willing to be wrong.”
• “ Perfection is taking. Excellence is giving.”
• “Perfection is fear. Excellence is taking a risk.”
3. Set Deadlines. (And move on!)
The thing about being a perfectionist is you’ll never be finished until it’s perfect, and you know what? It will never be perfect. A perfectionist will always have revisions; will always need a little more time; it will never be done.
The best way to break out of this mindset is to set yourself a deadline with tasks and no matter where you are with them and how much you think they could improve, move on once you’ve reached that deadline. If it’s really not done and you must complete it, pass it onto someone else to complete. And move on. The more you do this, the quicker you’ll start to realise the world doesn’t if you didn’t get it perfect. And the easier you’ll be free of your obsession with being perfect.