Throughout the course of building a business, you’ll learn over time to delegate tasks and responsibilities to various people with the right skill sets. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs, like Sir Richard Branson and Mark Cuban, state no one can do it alone. That’s certainly true, you can’t do everything on your own and for those who attempt to do so, learn the hard way it’s an open invitation to trouble and even outright failure. The best business owners know their strengths and weaknesses and through this recognition, develop strategies and relationships which maximize their professional potential.

Are You Delegating or Demanding?

Delegating responsibilities is just part of doing business. Done smartly, this increases productivity and gives companies potential to grow and prosper. It also allows team members to realize their potential and creates a healthier and happier work environment. Delegating shows your confidence in someone and gives them pride to take ownership of certain areas. In addition, delegating allows you to focus on what’s most important while others can put their efforts into other tasks.

Delegating is a great way to ensure that more tasks get done in less time, and it also builds team capacity. Unfortunately, a lot of managers don’t pay enough attention to the delegation process, and thus fail to reap the benefits. —Fast Company

Another aspect of delegating is it gives you the opportunity to evaluate a person’s performance. When you give a team member responsibility, their approach and results will speak volumes about what kind of work ethic he or she has and what he or she believes are acceptable standards. In addition to evaluation, delegating gives you the ability to learn which of your team members are best suited for certain tasks. All of these things are great about delegating — if you are sincere. However, there is a real difference between delegating and demanding.

Demanding does the opposite of delegating. It stifles creativity, decreases productivity, and poisons the workplace. It also drives a wedge between you and your employees, as well as creates tensions among your team members. Demanding doesn’t give you a true chance to evaluate, either, because it puts unnecessary pressure on people. Here are some signs that you’re demanding and not delegating:

  • You rationalize unrealistic expectations. When you demand, you know it to be the case, as does the other person. This creates a need to rationalize unrealistic expectations, not only to the other person, but to yourself. In the end, no one is fooled, but, it gives you at least a pretense of having reason to demand.
  • Your employees mislead or lie to you. If you get the feeling or learn that an employee is misleading or lying to you, there’s definitely a reason. Before jumping to conclusions, you should look back and think about the overall situation. For instance, if you interrogate an employee who wants time off, you’re creating an atmosphere where there’s little choice and lying becomes the only viable option.
  • You create emergency situations. We all know that unexpected things crop-up from time to time, but, if you’re turning every surprise into an emergency, you’ll feel an undue urgency and that can easily lead to demanding.
  • You justify your actions as legitimate and/or legal. If you ever have to ask if something is legal just to get it done, that’s troubling. You shouldn’t have to walk such a fine line because if you are, chances are excellent that even if it is legal, it’s not entirely ethical.
  • You don’t want to deal with this or that. Delegating is done because it puts the best talent where it is most needed. Demanding comes from a need to get something done, particularly a task that you don’t want to deal with personally.

Another sign that you’re demanding rather than delegating is your willingness to take credit or give credit to the person who deserves it. If you are taking credit of the work of others and not giving credit where it is due, that’s unethical and will undermine your entire organization.

In summary, your employees are your greatest appreciable asset. Invest in them through servant style leadership by delegating with clear expectations and the kind of results you are looking for … then ask; “what can I do to help you succeed with this responsibility or project?”

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