Are You a Good Delegator?

good delegator

You’ve heard over and over that small business owners need to be good delegators for their companies to grow. Now, there’s some actual proof.

A new Gallup study reports that companies led by executives with high “Delegator” ability enjoyed strikingly higher growth rates and revenues than those without.

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In addition, an entrepreneur that is a good delegator with a high Delegator ability was more likely to have big growth plans and create more jobs than those who are average or poor delegators.

Why does delegation matter so much? First, let’s take a closer look at the study. Gallup polled entrepreneurs from the Inc. 500 list and found:

  • Those with high Delegator talent posted an average three-year growth rate of 1,751 percent, 112 percentage points greater than those with limited or low Delegator talent.
  • CEOs with high Delegator talent also generated 33 percent greater revenue than those with low or limited Delegator talent — an average of $8 million vs. $6 million
  • Finally, Delegators created more jobs at a faster rate. Companies that have CEOs with high Delegator talent created an average of 21 jobs in 3 years, compared with 17 for lower levels of Delegator ability.

A separate Gallup study of more than 1,400 entrepreneurs with employees found similar results.

One-third of those with high Delegator talent say they plan to significantly grow their businesses. In contrast, 21 percent of entrepreneurs with lower or limited Delegator talent had big growth plans.

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In addition, 20 percent of those with high Delegator talent plan to boost their staff by 5 percent or more in the next year. Fourteen percent of those with lower Delegator talent say the same.

So what can you do if, like so many of us, you struggle to let go of your “baby” and be a good delegator? Try to develop the six Delegator traits the Gallup study identified.

  1. Admit you can’t do it all yourself. Gallup found that good Delegators focus on “high-yield” tasks; poor ones get bogged down in day-to-day work that someone else could easily handle.
  2. Develop a strong team. According to Gallup, this requires understanding what your employees are good (and bad) at, just like understanding what you yourself excel at. Once you have a handle on employees’ skills, you can balance the team by matching the right person to the right role.
  3. Provide what your employees need. Whether it’s training, moral support or equipment and technology, good delegators make sure their teams have the backup and support to do their jobs well, and to learn and grow.
  4. Don’t micromanage. The clear sign of a non-Delegator is getting obsessed with details and hovering over how employees do things. Good delegators tell employees what they expect, then let employees take ownership of how to accomplish it.
  5. Learn to collaborate. Good delegators are eager to hear new ideas from employees, such as new ways of doing things. Letting employees make decisions and have input makes them more loyal. Poor delegators try to make all the decisions themselves.
  6. Be a good communicator. Frequent communication, especially positive feedback, is essential to delegating well, because it creates confidence among employees. Let your team know what’s going on in the company instead of trying to manage it all yourself.

Try telling a trusted employee or partner that you’re trying to change your ways, and enlist that person to give you feedback, nudges and warnings when you’re slipping into non-Delegator mode.

If you can accomplish these six goals, you’ll build a strong team of employees — which makes it a lot easier to let go and trust them with tasks you need to get off your plate.

Overwhelmed Photo via Shutterstock


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

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