When You Shouldn’t Delegate


by Don Smith

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Delegate, delegate, delegate. Most business books you read will tell you to learn how to delegate if you want to get more done. Indeed delegation is critical for busy leaders, but when is that a bad idea?

When You Shouldn't Delegate
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

The other day at the gym, Jeremy, my personal trainer, told me, “Give me three sets of ten, full body presses.” Jokingly I turned to the lady next to me and said, “Would you mind taking care of that for me?”

She laughed, she and I both knew it was an absurd request. Fitness is one of those things that can't be delegated. Now if my objective was to move every weight in the gym across town, you can be certain I would be delegating, but that wasn't my objective. You can hire people that will help you reach your goals quicker, but there is no substitute for doing the reps when it comes to fitness or personal development. To quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, “There are no shortcuts. Everything is reps, reps, reps.”

“There are no shortcuts. Everything is reps, reps, reps.”Arnold Schwarzenegger

Many things in life and business are that way. You wouldn't go pay someone to take your spouse out on a date, that's not something that should be delegated. There is no substitute for you doing what is necessary to keep your relationship running smoothly. If you are the best person for the job, you don't delegate those first few meetings with that prospective client who can make or break your business. If you are the head of the company, you don't assign setting the mission and vision of the organization to your secretary, or you may find it heading in a direction you never intended.

Three Times You Should Never Delegate

Whitney Johnson in the article “Three Reasons You Shouldn't Delegate,” which was published in the Harvard Business Review, pointed out these three reasons why you shouldn't delegate.

  1. When you struggle to explain what you want the delegatee to do.
  2. When you undermine the success of a critical project by delegating.
  3. When you put your own development in jeopardy.

Are you trying to delegate your own personal development? If you are, stop. Yes, you can and probably should hire coaches or join mastermind groups like ours to help you. But there is no substitute for doing the reps, no substitute for doing the work. If you want to take yourself and your business to the next level, stop passing the buck on that which should not be delegated.

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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