Great hurdlers know that they must clear the obstacles while maintaining their speed. The same applies for good leaders: you must overcome barriers—both externally and internally—while maintaining your focus and energy.
In my previous article “Time Management Principles To Live By”, I suggested a number of tools for leaders to test and practice. Delegation is one of the most difficult time management skills for two reasons: a) when done well, delegation involves multiple steps (often referred to as “Realization/Observation/Collaboration/Evaluation/Delegation”) that can derail at any stage and b) it tends to trigger internal barriers (i.e. limiting assumptions and beliefs) for leaders, often resulting in sabotage of the delegation process.
My clients and colleagues know that the Enneagram Personality Tool is the primary personality assessment tool that I use in my 1:1 Executive Coaching work. I won’t describe here the details of how the Enneagram works (I refer you to Mario Sikora’s excellent articles on this) but it is an extremely helpful framework for understanding, and therefore dismantling, the common internal barriers of each type that can easily undermine the delegation process.
In working with different personality styles in my practice, I often hear some the following internal barriers and narratives:
Type 1 (Striving to be Perfect): I am worried that others won’t do it correctly or as well as me. I might as well do it myself. They should just know how to do what must be done. I don’t have the patience or time to train them.
Type 2 (Striving to be Connected): I am worried that other’s will be uncomfortable, or feel burdened if I ask them for help or that they will see me as being selfish.
Type 3 (Striving to be Outstanding): I am worried that other’s will not do it fast enough to hit our goals. I can do it better and faster.
Type 4 (Striving to be Unique): I am worried that others won’t have the creative vision; they won’t understand what I feel and see so I better do it myself.
Type 5 (Striving to be Detached): I am worried that if I delegate then it will obligate me to get involved with others more than I want to. They might see that I don’t know everything.
Type 6 (Striving to be Secure): I am worried that so many things can go wrong if I hand over the work; I am worried that I can’t trust others to do the work consistently.
Type 7 (Striving to be Excited): I am worried that I will get bored and irritated by other’s slow learning process. I am worried that I will get bored if I have less to do.
Type 8 (Striving to be Powerful): I am worried that I will lose control or that someone might use these new responsibilities to gain more power over me.
Type 9 (Striving to be Peaceful): I am worried that delegating might cause conflict or disruption to a harmonious relationship.
Again, these are just possible internal limiting beliefs that can emerge for each Enneagram personality type when asked to delegate. You can use this simple exercise to begin disrupting your internal story:
- a) Write down the internal worries and limiting beliefs related to delegating
- b) Write down the consequences of not delegating on you and your team
- c) Challenge and re-write these limiting beliefs. What do you want to believe or think? For example, a type 7 (Striving to be Excited) might re-write their negative story to: “delegating could actually free up my time and energy to do things that really excite and energize me.”
- d) Now test this this re-written story. Start delegating and see if this written story is true or not. Reflect on this process and revise your narrative as you go. The trick is to engage in a new leadership skill (i.e. delegation) and have a flexible narrative to support it.
What I see over and over in my Executive Coaching practice is that when clients re-write their limiting internal narratives, then the execution of behavior like delegation become more effortless.
If you need help with learning delegation skills, re-writing your internal narratives or identifying your specific leadership/personality style, then please contact me.