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Why You Need to Learn How to Delegate (and What Might be Holding You Back)

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by Andrea M. Darcy

An avid ‘do-it-yourselfer’? Can’t be bothered to ask for help at work, home, or in relationships? Refusing to learn how to delegate means you are missing out on a powerful tool of personal growth.

Learn how to delegate to reap these benefits

How is delegating a tool of mental and emotional wellbeing?

1. It helps us trust others.

Have trust issues? Delegating slowly but surely challenges you to grow your capacity to  trust others to do things to the best of their ability. The more we delegate, the more we might feel it easier to trust in our intimate relationships, too. 

2. It means we have to stop controlling everything.

Sure, we can delegate and then try to control with micro managing. But either we’ll feel exhausted, or the person we’ve delegated to will let us know in no uncertain terms it’s not working. Delegating becomes a way to look at where we need to let go a little.

3. It challenges our need to be perfect.

The other person may do things differently than we would have, or in a way that to us doesn’t seem perfect in our eyes.

What delegating teaches over time is that wanting everything to be perfect is inefficient.

The more we can let others do certain things to a ‘good enough’ level, the more time we have to apply our rigid standards to important things. If the new housekeeper forgot to vacuum under the bed, but we used the time saved to put together a perfect funding proposal, isn’t a bit of dust worth it?

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4. It helps us learn to communicate our needs clearly.

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The better you can explain exactly what you need done, in a way that inspires instead of offends the other, the better the results you will get. 

Why aren’t you delegating?

Always say you are going to find help, or let your partner arrange the next vacation, or finally make your kids do more around the house, or start letting your team at work take over more, but then… don’t?

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It’s important to get very honest about what is holding you back. Looking at the benefits above can give insight.

But there can be deeper reasons relating to identity and esteem that need addressing when we don’t want to learn how to delegate. 

1. Are you afraid to lose value?

If you delegate your work to assistants, will your boss then think you are less important? If you hire a housekeeper when you currently aren’t working, will your partner see you as lazy? We can create many excuses, but at heart this is about low self-esteem. We are refusing to see how delegating might lead to opportunity and we are playing small.

2. Worry delegating makes you look incompetent and ‘weak’?

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This comes from comparing ourselves to others. The other parents you know make meals from scratch, work full-time jobs, and look glamorous without help. You’d be a bad parent to hire someone to help with cooking. Or if you are a woman in a male-driven industry, you might worry that delegating too much will make you look like you ‘can’t handle it’.

But this is all assumption-based. Worrying more about what others think, instead of about knowing what works for you, again goes back to esteem issues.

Are you addicted to being a victim?

If you delegate things, you’ll have less to complain about. And often, without realising it, we’ve formed our very identity over our stories of suffering. Take an honest look at how many of your conversations revolve around recounting the latest horror at work you’ve had to navigate, or moaning about how your partner isn’t ever doing their share with parenting.

And then be even more honest. Have you ever actually had an honest, direct conversation with the colleagues and partner you are complaining about ? Or have you just passive aggressively sniped at them?

Victimhood can run deep, going back to difficult childhood experiences or a family where we had to fight for attention.

Myths about delegating

Still not convinced you can be bothered to learn how to delegate well? It can help to look at myths around delegating versus research.

1. With all the time and energy it takes to explain things it’s not worth it.

Yes, coordinating things is time consuming. To learn how to delegate well takes time, and delegating can cost money. But it’s shown by research to directly connect to gains, not losses.

A research study looked at data from thousands of American law offices. It found that delegating work to associates meant an average partner at a firm earned 20% more than they would otherwise. And top lawyers with the most skills to then leverage earned at least 50% more.

2. Nobody else can do what I do.

Research shows that delegation leads to the person being asked to do things to rise to the challenge.

A study looking at the workings of a Fortune 500 company showed that delegation led to innovative behaviour and task performance and well as a bigger commitment to the job. 

And other research shows that delegation also motivates team members to enhance their skills and expertise. 

3. I will never be any good at delegating.

It might certainly be true that you are terrible at it now. That you are too demanding, overexploit and confuse others, or micromanage, then get bad results.

But delegating isn’t an innate talent, it’s a skill. You can learn how to delegate well, such as learning how to give good feedback, and finding and using technologies that make delegation easier.

Can’t ask for help without anxiety? Or find trusting so hard you know it’s an issue? We connect you with a team of highly regarded expert talk therapists in London. Or use our booking site to find UK-wide registered therapists and online counsellors now. 

Still have a question about why you need to learn how to delegate? Post below. Note we cannot offer free counselling via comments. 


Andrea M. Darcy mental health expertAndrea M. Darcy is a health and wellbeing expert who has written hundreds of popular articles.  She also runs a consultancy advising people on how to plan their therapy journey. Find her on Instagram @am_darcy

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Blog Topics: Parenting, Relationships, Work Life

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