I’ve made the point before that knowing when and how to delegate is a trait of good leaders. It shows trust in your employees and ensures that you are focusing your own time and skills in your zone of genius — the tasks that only you can do.
But I’d like to argue that there are some things that should never be delegated because they will make you too far removed from your team, open you up for criticism, or ultimately paint you in a bad light.
If you’ve delegated any of the following tasks, I suggest you move these back into your zone of genius:
- Core functions or responsibilities
Neither a company nor an individual employee should ever outsource their core competencies — the tasks that add the most value. As an employee, if you outsource these tasks, your boss may wonder why he needs to keep you around at all. As a company, you may find yourself held hostage if you outsource and your partner leaves or demands more money.
- Praise and discipline
These tasks are two sides of the coin. People will naturally trust and be more loyal to the person who doles out praise and incentives, and the higher up you are in a company, the more important it is to do these activities yourself. Likewise, while disciplining employees is possibly a manager’s most unpleasant task, it shouldn’t be passed off to a subordinate. Don’t name some underling to be the one to have to pass out the pink slips; if it must be done, do it yourself.
- Team building and talent nurturing
Perhaps a manager’s most important job is building, training, and nurturing his or her team, which is why it’s vital not to completely outsource these tasks. Bringing in the right talent, putting together a team that works well, and understanding which members need training, mentoring, or incentives are the tools for success.
- Fundraising and investor relations
Especially if you’re a CEO or entrepreneur, you can’t completely delegate these tasks. Investors want to hear from the person in charge whether the news is good or bad.
- Mission, vision, and company culture
As with team building, you can’t outsource the core values that bring you together as a team. Whether you are the CEO or a team leader, maintaining the vision that drives your team cannot be forgotten or outsourced.
- Crisis management
No matter how big the crisis is in the grand scheme of things, your presence is required. It’s important to show all parties that you are monitoring the situation and involved in finding a solution. It doesn’t matter whether your organization is negotiating a hostage situation or trying to salvage your biggest account; a wise leader will be present and involved.
- Traditions and etiquette
There are just certain situations that require your presence out of politeness and tradition. It would be unthinkable to send your assistant to the funeral of an employee’s relative or a team member’s wedding. Go or don’t go, but don’t delegate this one.
The most powerful leaders in the world understand the power of delegation. But the best leaders will make a point of keeping these items on their personal to do list, no matter how important or powerful they grow to be.
What tasks would you add to this list? Have you seen or experienced egregious examples of leaders delegating the wrong things? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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