How to delegate from a growth mindset

One of my interview questions for a job was about dealing with many projects simultaneously and multitasking and my first suggestion was delegation. Interesting enough, I did not know how hard that was at that time, how delegation is a lot about giving up control, about trust and about growing another person, and not simply just handing over assignments and receiving them completed, more about personal relations and less about reporting templates, monitoring and control.

I see that today and, often, I do find myself in situations where I would do things faster than I can delegate them. Delegation is an investment, it is more than clearing up your to-do list and more about creating space in your schedule for complex tasks and new opportunities.

Here are the 3 most often road blocks in the way of efficient delegation and the growth mindset shifts which will help you be a better delegator:

1 “Only I can do it” > turns into > “Don’t put limitations on people’s intelligence

Intelligence is not fixed. Our mind is like a muscle and, just like any other muscle, we can exercise it and develop it over time. Although your brain might not grow physically, you develop new neural networks when you challenge yourself or learn something new.

So, although you already have the skills to do the task and the delegate does not (yet), it does not mean that they cannot do it or learn how to do it.

2 “It is faster if I do it” > turns into > “Embrace challenges

On the short term, you are probably right. On the long term though, you could be clearing your schedule for new opportunities and thus gaining a lot of time. Moreover, a growth mindset means embracing challenges, not avoiding them. This way not only you help the growth of the delegate, but you grow yourself, cause it takes a special kind of skill to be able to teach someone to do what you do.

3 “The delegate has to do it the exact same way” > turns into > “Learn from criticism

Once you have moved passed the first 2 steps and delegated the task, you need to communicate the desired outcome, if needed help the delegate form a plan, but stay out of the process.

The first reason for which we fear people doing things differently than we do, is that we see it as a criticism to our way of doing it, it’s like they are saying “you were doing it wrong”.

I challenge you to be curious and see this as an opportunity to learn, to discover new ways, maybe better ways. Usually people are not out to get us, they just think in a different manner, and that is ok as long as we get the objective done. So start by giving the delegate the outcome, starting with the end in mind, and let them build the way up.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

General Patton

Delegation is never an easy process. When you get to the point of having to delegate, you already built your way up, so this exercise of giving up control could mean shaking up your core. If you still struggle with the questions above, start the process consciously and intentionally and ask yourself “what am I unwilling to delegate? Make a list of tasks and identify the best person in your organization – not you – to take on this project or task and delegate the task”.

We usually get to delegation when we are no longer able to complete the tasks on time. Start the process before you have to, before you have pressure of deadlines, thus when you do have to do it, you are more prepared internally.

And always keep in mind that the only point to delegating something is if it frees you for things that create greater value for your company.

How do you delegate? Do you feel fear in doing it? Do you still avoid it or do you embrace the opportunity?

Entrepreneurship, between skill and mindset

I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I remember being a kid and dreaming of having my own company. At that time, it meant being my own boss, having control over my schedule, it meant independence and freedom. I know, I was a naive kid as I later learned, but a kid with aspirations.

I put off starting a company year after year.

At first I stopped as I had read I should start with a business plan. And I started drafting a business plan … several times, but I lacked the skill. So I learned more.

The second stop was due to the ever changing legislation, which never felt supportive of an entrepreneur. Basically, it simply stated that no matter if you earn an income or not, you have to pay taxes for having a company. This also happened a few times. I see now my error here as well.

Third time, something had changed. I realized that it is not about feeling prepared, about the right moment, about the perfect business plan, about an investor giving you free money, it was about taking the first step, jumping and building your wings on the way down.

It was not about skill, cause no matter how much you develop your skills, how much you learn, how early you get an MBA, if you don’t have or grow an entrepreneurial mindset, you’ll never start.

So what do I mean by entrepreneurial mindset:

  1. just do it – there are no secret recipes and the best school is the fail first and use that advantage school.
  2. problems are solutions yet to be unfolded – too often when faced with a problem, we start thinking in terms of guilt or blame and this keeps us from seeing the solutions.
  3. take a step back – sometimes we are too much in the middle of the problem to be able to see a solution. Take a step back and look at the problem from all sides, like a 6 thinking hats exercise.
  4. put yourself in challenging situations – I’ve always done stuff like that to see if I can take it, to see my weaknesses, to find my strengths, to prove myself that I can move past any obstacle. It was always a deliberate choice to expose myself vulnerable when I was afraid, vulnerable in front of crowds, I broke the ice and volunteered first before I knew what had to be done, I went to events outside my comfort zone and shared rooms with strangers during my residential weekends in the MBA training.
  5. vision first – don’t get caught up in competition and selling. Try to build and learn from others and offer support. Try to focus on the HARD objectives instead of immediate sales, cause immediate sales will only make you do (almost) anything to sell on the spot and this will determine an involuntary shift in your course, until one day you will wake up and not recognize what you built.

After 20 years of being an employee, an entrepreneur, a manager working with entrepreneurs, developing entrepreneurial programs, after winning millions of euros for entrepreneurs and monitoring how entrepreneurs develop their business, I believe that the thing that kills most businesses is not failure, a bad idea, the crisis or the economy. It’s doubt β€“ in ourselves, our surroundings, our abilities.

And the thing that makes the difference between a succesfull entrepreneur and a business fail is your mindset, knowing that you always have a choice. Even when you are stuck and feel that you cannot make a decision, you actually choose to stay.

The second you start choosing differently and working on your mindset, there will be no going back!

If you’re not gonna work for your dreams, you’re gonna work in somebody else’s dreams!

Without dismissing entrepreneurship programs, I do believe that they are not enough. They give you the tools and mechanics of a business but you need to be the fuel.