4 Things Leaders Should Never Delegate

Delegation is central to successful leadership. However, there are a few things leaders should never completely delegate. Twitter_logo_blue While these areas should often be shared with your people, their final shape and implementation should be guarded closely by you, as the leader.

things leaders should never delegate

Here are the four areas:

The Destination

The final vision and ultimate direction of the organization, team, or family should rest upon the leader. The destination entails the what, the where, and the why. It is prudent that the destination be a discussion with your people. But these questions must be under the constant guardianship of the leader.

I recently spoke to the CEO of a very large and successful hospital. He told me, “Wes, as the leader, I don’t worry about the how. There are people in my organization whose responsibility is to figure out the how. I focus on the what, where, and why.”

What—What shall we do?
Where—Where shall we go?
Why—Why are we going where we are going, or doing what we are doing?

While most of us are not in a position to completely relinquish the how like my CEO friend, it is imperative if we truly want to lead, to be laser-focused on the destination (the what, where, and why). And remember to go beyond the where and the what. The hardest, and possibly the most important, question is why. Asking and answering the why reveals our motives and will help us refine our navigation.

The Culture

The culture defines who we are and how we treat each other and the world. It is the guidepost that governs how our people think and make decisions. This should also be highly guarded. Correcting a wayward culture is the hardest work a leader does. Protecting a thriving culture is the most important work a leader does.

Guarding and improving your organization’s culture is your responsibility as the leader. In your inner sanctum, sit and think about your team’s culture. Decide how it needs to be changed and improved. Then talk about it, consult with others, and act. When an organization has a vibrant culture, a leader was intentional to create it.

You cannot afford to delegate defining and refining the culture of your team completely to others. You must oversee it constantly. Watch it and guard it like a hawk. The culture will define your team’s success.

The Brand

A brand is how the outside world perceives your organization. And how you are perceived will define the degree of your success. Any organization has consumers. A business has customers. A clinic has patients. A church has members. A non-profit organization has participants. How your consumers see your organization will determine how much they will come with you or buy from you.

It is said that Steve Jobs was intimately involved with the design, appearance, and feel of the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and the Apple stores. While some describe him as a micro-manager, I think it is great leadership when a leader understands the importance of how the products (or services) he is presiding over are perceived. How consumers saw Apple mattered to Steve.

Again, bring talented people to help you with branding and to join you in this decision. But make sure to guard and protect the brand and don’t delegate its final decision completely.

The Final Responsibility

It may seem obvious that the ultimate responsibility of success is the leader’s duty. It is. But sometimes as leaders, we forget it.

Whatever happens to the team or organization rests upon your shoulders. As much as we are tempted as leaders to blame others or outside circumstances, good leaders understand that in the final analysis, the success or failure of your team will be attached to you—it is your responsibility.

Don’t abdicate this core duty as a leader and blame others. Your organization, your team, is yours. It is your family. You are its “parent,” its guardian. Be grounded in that knowledge and act accordingly.

What To Delegate

For me, there is nothing I want to do alone. I don’t for several reasons, first and foremost because I don’t know everything. I cannot see everything. And I just need help to think and execute. Also, even in the most crucial decisions, I want to decide with others because I see successful leadership as a “together” proposition—that’s how people feel respected and included.

As the leader, there are many things you can successfully delegate almost completely. However, I highly suggest that the destination, culture, brand, and final responsibility be guarded closely by you—the leader.

Leadership is the art of knowing what to let go of. Raising leaders and letting go, trusting them with almost everything empowers them and will lead to huge success. However, completely letting go of the core of what your organization stands for and where it is going usually means confusion and fatal disaster.

Question: Are there any other areas you believe a leader should not delegate?
Please respond in the comments section below.

While the top four areas are the most important to me, another area that can be closely guarded is who is added to your organization. Your people will define the future of your team. And getting the wrong people can spell disaster. Unless the organization I am leading is very large, I try to meet with and have direct input into everyone we hire.

Your friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

For Further Reading:

The Most Important Goals of a Leader
Focus on What (Not How)
The Best Way to Delegate: 10-80-10 

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