A young chief executive who founded a thriving company appears to be at the peak of his success. But instead of enjoying his achievement, he is stressed and overwhelmed with responsibility. His problem is a failure to delegate work.
“The company is a triangle and I feel at the bottom of it, holding everything up,” is how he expresses his dilemma. Although he envies managers who are able to delegate, he feels unable to, believing that the company is an extension of himself and his personality.
He adds: “I make these emotional connections and I believe that what I do is about the relationships I make with people. I never wanted to delegate for fear of losing my clients.”
Although most executives would agree that delegating is crucial to a business’s success, many still micromanage in such a way that they continue to control most aspects of the work.
For many, the skill of delegating can be learnt. But when an executive fails to do so even if it is essential to the growth and functioning of the business, the problem may be more deep-rooted. Beliefs that I have come across in my psychotherapy practice, such as “this business is all about me”; “no one can do it as well as me”; or “people are likely to let me down”, are all justifications that sabotage delegation.
One consequence of these beliefs is that staff being managed can feel undermined or undervalued, and may soon lose interest in their jobs. The harm to the company can be twofold, according to Jeannie Hodder, a business coach who works at London Business School. First, micromanaged staff cease thinking for themselves, and without imaginative input the company is deprived of innovative ideas and can stagnate. Second, overly hands-on executives can be left feeling overburdened and stressed, and without time to devise strategy.