Throughout my career at Heartland Dental and in the dental field at large, I've come across a lot of effective leaders. I've met incredible, inspirational leaders who seem to be able to accomplish an almost inhuman amount, all while maintaining work-life balance and keeping a healthy mindset. Often, aspiring leaders ask me what qualities and skills leaders have so they can develop them in their own career. Most people jump to familiar attributes: time management, decision making, organization, strategic thinking, and other time-honored business skills. But there's one crucial skill every leader needs that you may not be thinking of: delegation.
If there's one thing that robs leaders of their efficacy, it's getting lost in the weeds of doing minute tasks, low-level tasks. I see too many people in positions of leadership – even in C-suite positions – spending their hours doing tasks that truthfully belong to their direct reports, or even to people multiple levels down the organizational hierarchy. I can sympathize with this: we spend so much of our careers on these tasks that they become the only thing that "feels" like work.
The problem with this isn't that anyone is "above" these tasks or that they're "undignified" in some way. The problem is that as a manager, executive, or other leader in an organization, these tasks simply aren't in your job description. The job of a leader is to think about larger, high-level elements of the organization, leaving the actual grunt work to direct reports and employees. Delegating these lower-level tasks to other employees is one of the most important skills a manager can learn.
In addition to freeing up time in your schedule and improving your own productivity, learning the art of delegation is actually the healthiest thing for your organization. Ultimately, a leader isn't needed to do these tasks – that's why they're part of a team. If they don't have the skill of delegation and get lost doing these tasks, there will be no one to think about high-level organizational goals. And, as I've seen time and again, if no one is steering the ship, it'll run into an iceberg.
So the next time you get caught up in what seems like a pressing task, ask yourself: are you really the person who should be doing this job? Or do you have a stellar employee who would both enjoy and excel at the task? Learning to see what tasks you don't need to perform – and, in fact, shouldn't be performing – and delegating them to your employees will help you, your professional team, and your organization as a whole thrive.
I wish you luck implementing the techniques of delegation into your own work routine, and if you'd like more insights like this on business, leadership, and the dental industry, feel free to subscribe to Dentistry Leaders. I hope to see you back here soon for more tips and info on all things business leadership.