You can do anything, but not everything.
Our aim for this year’s calendar was to inspire each recipient to be the best leader they could be through thought-provoking quotes on different aspects of leadership. As I turned the page over to March this week, David Allen’s quote on delegation struck me:
“You can do anything, but not everything.”
My role at The Juniper Company requires me to spin many “plates” at any one time. Whilst I take great satisfaction in ensuring we meet or exceed all our client objectives, like many of us within the team, I hold a perfectionism gene. Being a perfectionist plate spinner can sometimes work against me.
Delegation is something I am yet to master. Indeed, until recently, it was a concept I never fully accepted. Relinquishing control of the tasks that I am responsible for doesn’t come easily to me and I’ll admit, is a scary prospect.
But this is natural, normal even. Last night, we met with Ginny Howe of Ginny Howe Eventing for our annual catch-up. We asked after her, her horses and her team. When speaking of the great help her team provides, she said “but I prepare the lorry before each of our events”. To us, the thought that Ginny, a professional event rider, was packing the lorry, on top of everything else she had on her plate, was a surprise. When we asked the reason why, Ginny simply replied “I’m scared the girls will forget something I need”.
This morning, when scheduling a courier to pick up a parcel from our office, a colleague suggested Thursday would suit best. I asked why we shouldn’t just go for Friday to give our printer more time, to which she replied, “because I won’t be in and I want to just double check everything before it goes”. I didn’t take any offence – I understood the need to ensure the best for our client and that relinquishing control is scary.
Aptly, we could all learn something from our February calendar quote:
“Do something every day that scares you” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Delegation may be scary, but I’ve come to realise that I can’t do everything. I rarely reach the end of my to do list, but I will get a great deal closer if I utilise the skills and resources available within our office. And my teammates are more than happy to help.
Delegation doesn’t mean losing sight of a task altogether. By overseeing progress (without micro-managing), I can ensure its completion, without impacting my workload. It may also mean that I’m able to give a junior member of our team an opportunity to stretch themselves or to open the task up to a different, and possibly more creative, approach that I may not have considered.
It’s difficult to “let go” and to entrust others with the responsibilities and tasks needed to achieve success. Investing the time on clear guidelines is one way to ensure effective delegation. When speaking to my colleagues, or indeed when they brief me on their tasks, we try to discuss the following key points:
- What is to be achieved?
- Why is it important?
- How is it to be achieved?
- How will achievement be measured?
- When is it to be achieved?
If you’re like me, it’ll take time before this comes naturally. Why not take a breath when considering your tasks for the day/week, then consider how much time you have - what is achievable? Finally, most importantly, speak to your team. Through discussing your team priorities together, you can evaluate which of your individual tasks are most urgent. Only then can you decide how best to utilise the resources around you.
Before February ends, will you do something scary with me?
Take a breath, then let go.
(I’m sure there’s a very catchy Disney song on this if you need a prompt…)