Leveraging vs. Delegation: What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter for My Business?

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To grow your business, a time will come when you need to hand off some of your responsibilities and tasks. After all, there are only so many hours in a day, and freeing up your time can allow you to spend it where it is the most valuable. But, how do you do that? A quick Google search on the topic will tell you to delegate, delegate, delegate. 

That means you tell people what to do and they do it for you. Sounds like a smart way to free up some of your time, right?

Before you go firing off requests to your employees, ask yourself this: Do you want to tell people what to do, and be there to solve problems that come up along the way, like a parent? Or do you want to explain what you need—and why—and encourage them to be resourceful and figure it out? The second option is called leveraging. And it’s vastly different from delegation. More on that ahead. First, let’s review why passing off tasks and responsibilities is essential for growing your business. 

Why is delegating important?

Delegation gets you out of working IN the business and into working ON the business. And there are big rewards for making this shift. A Gallup study revealed that CEOs on the Inc. 500 list with “high delegator skill” generated 33% more revenue compared to those with lower levels of delegator skill.

Similar findings were also reported in a study of US lawyers. Researchers found that those who delegated work to associates earned around 20% more than they would otherwise, with top lawyers earning at least 50% more.

The bottom line is that effective delegation can allow your business to grow and scale, but the keyword is “effective”. And that’s where the difference lies between leveraging and delegation. In order to be effective, you need to think differently about what delegation means.

Ask yourself: Do you want to tell other people what to do and how to accomplish tasks? Or do you want to leverage your employees’ talents, interests and skill sets to ensure the to dos you remove from your list are accomplished effectively? And wouldn’t it also be nice if those tasks were done better than you could have done them?

The Difference Between Leveraging and Delegation

Leverage is more about inspiring employees to do something. It’s about getting their buy-in and getting to the “why”. Leverage taps into the most valuable resource at any company: the people — their ingenuity, their creativity, their passion, their resiliency, and their determination.

Delegation is telling people what you want done, and when you want it done. And believe it or not, the very nature of telling people how to do something gets in the way of them actually getting done in many cases.

When you learn how to go beyond simple delegation to leveraging your employees’ talents to accomplish tasks, you are at a huge advantage. Effectively leveraging your team enables leaders to focus on the strategic activities that drive business growth. It’s also a fantastic way to increase engagement and give employees a role in supporting key initiatives. Leveraging also encourages employees to engage in continuous learning which boosts their morale and effectiveness.

Start Leveraging Instead of Delegating

One of the most common questions our coaches get on this topic is: How do I leverage my employees more effectively. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is there someone in your organization who can handle the task?
  • Does your employee have the training and capacity to handle the tasks?
  • Does your employee have access to the tools needed to complete the task?
  • Is your timeframe for completing the task realistic?

These initial questions are ways you can determine who in your organization may be suited to handle a specific task. Equally important, these questions allow you to help set your employee up for success with the right skills, tools and timing to get the job done effectively and efficiently. Notice that there are no questions in there like: When will I show my employee how to do the task? How can I oversee my employees to make sure they do it correctly?

Effective delegation—or leveraging your employees talents—means letting go and giving your employees the opportunity to support the business, so you have the freedom to do what you need to do to help the business grow.

TWR Can Help You Get There

TWR’s coaches help leaders like you succeed, so you can work more productively with your team to scale your business. Remember, the seemingly easy things to change are not always easy when you’re a leader. That’s why so many owners and managers fail to do them. TWR can help you overcome barriers to quality leadership with proven strategies that allow you better connect with employees—and manage your bottom line.

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