The Art of Delegation: How to Get Results Without Micromanaging

As a CEO or Vistage emerging leader, have you ever felt torn between tasks, unsure of what to give your full attention to? Do you find it difficult to balance all of your responsibilities? Do you feel a pressure to handle every single aspect of your business personally, without accepting help from anyone else? Have you ever thought that you’d be more productive, and therefore be of the most value to your company, if you only had enough time to complete all that you need to do?

If so, then it may be time for you to start delegating tasks to other employees at your company. The last thing your company needs is to be micromanaged. And, on top of all of your responsibilities as a CEO or emerging leader, the last thing you need is to be micromanaging all aspects of your business.

However, delegating can be difficult, because there’s a fine line between delegating and handing everything over — you need to make sure you’re delegating the right amount of work, and to the right people. Luckily, as a result of my years of working in the industry and my work at Mark Taylor’s Vistage Groups, I know the key to delegating and how business leaders like you can achieve results without micromanaging.

First, it’s crucial to keep in mind what it is exactly that needs to be delegated. As a CEO or emerging leader, what is most important for you to handle? In other words, what can you prioritize? Which tasks require the mind and decision-making skills of a business leader? Are there any tasks which are lower in priority, either in terms of scale or timeframe? Are you as a leader tasked with anything menial?

It is critical to ask yourself these questions in order to figure out what can and can’t be delegated. As a CEO or emerging leader, you’re planning out business policies and strategies. This doesn’t always lend time for other tasks, and a successful leader recognizes where their priorities lie. Even small business CEOs need to delegate.

Some types of tasks that are usually delegated are those which fall under administrative duties, budgeting, research and managing or overseeing projects. Administrative tasks can include paperwork, setting up meetings and running errands — anything mundane that would simply fill up a CEO’s day, when they could be doing other things. Budgeting tasks can include setting budgets and managing the books. Although it is crucial for a leader to be in the know regarding a company’s financial limitations, there is no need for them to be managing the books themselves. Research tasks that can be delegated range from background checks to market research, things which trained professionals are able to do. Finally, although CEOs typically oversee various projects at a time, it is fundamental to recognize which projects are able to be delegated. It is unrealistic to expect a CEO to manage every little detail, and for this reason, they must be able to assign trusted leaders to oversee these projects.

If a CEO were to manage every little detail, this would fall under micromanaging. While delegating is assigning someone else the responsibility of a task, micromanaging occurs when a leader feels responsible for each task individually, therefore focusing on the operations of a business rather than on helping it grow. This limits the scope of possible success for the business, and it removes a layer of both trust and responsibility between a leader and their employees.

Delegation can be tricky for a variety of reasons, but partly because business leaders delegate the wrong things. An example of this is delegating issues of culture and engagement to the human resources department. According to research from Gallup, “70% of CEOs delegate culture and engagement issues to HR.” It is the responsibility of the CEO or business leader to communicate the desired culture of the workplace, and to enforce it. When situations such as these are delegated to HR, an opportunity for clarification is missed, and the purpose or role of a company can become misunderstood or misconstrued.

Therefore, it is important that the right tasks be delegated, and to the right people as well. A lot of CEOs and emerging leaders are afraid to delegate lest the employee make a mistake. In my own experience, before Vistage, I didn’t used to trust the people who worked with me to complete tasks I was assigned. Out of wanting to do everything myself, I was afraid to delegate. However, I realized that this is simply unmanageable — and, not to mention, unsustainable.

It’s important to remember that delegation is for the benefit of the company. For this reason, CEOs and business leaders must choose very carefully who they delegate tasks to. Delegation is about spreading up the work so it’s manageable for the company as a whole. Successful business leaders delegate similar tasks to the same individual, or even a team of individuals, in order for them to gain familiarity with the assignments. However, they are also careful not to overload anyone, as this can result in the same issue they are trying to correct.

Bottom Line:

The most successful CEOs know that they can’t do everything, and that it’s best to split it up.

As the business leader, which tasks should you focus on? Which tasks should you delegate? Who should they be delegated to?

Delegation can be hard to navigate, but as long as you’re asking yourself the hard questions, you should be able to reach a successful middle ground — delegating work to people you trust and earning yourself more time to run your business. Through our Mark Taylor’s Vistage Groups, CEOs can learn to delegate naturally and successfully, and avoid micromanaging their employees.