Delegate and Elevate

delegateI recently wrote about the important leadership skill of decision making and focused on the “how.” And equally important, for the sake of living up to my moniker and saving you time, is the helping with the “what.”

As leaders, we play Whac-a-mole every day. Tons of info and requests bombard us from all corners forcing us to try to quickly synthesize and prioritize. What needs to be addressed right now? What can wait? And then those lists change as quickly as something else hits our desk.

This tends to drag us in to the weeds. Ever had those days where you blink, it is 5 o’clock, and yet you don’t feel like anything important got done? Admittedly, this is just going to happen sometimes. But if you find yourself more often working “in” the business instead of “on” the business, I’m going to suggest a different approach.

Sometimes we bring it upon ourselves by feeling that we’ve got to take care of everything ourselves (or else it won’t be done correctly). If you find yourself saying that, then what you’ve really got on your hands are people issues.

But if that is not the case, then the issue is really you – and the solution, as a friend of mine Mike Paton says, is to “let go of the vine” and delegate and elevate.

The goal here is to spend as much of your time as possible working on the things that only you can uniquely do for the organization and get into the habit of looking at everything that comes across your desk through that lens.

Always first ask yourself: “Is there someone else on our team that can appropriately handle this instead of me?” If yes, delegate it to them immediately. If your team is really humming, that person will ask themselves the same question and delegate if appropriate, so everyone is working on tasks that are their highest and best uses.

It is important to consider the process you use to delegate in order to be mindful of direct reports feeling bombarded. Without clear direction and help with prioritization, they can feel overwhelmed by all the things sent their way. Ideally, you are using the Level 10 meeting to discuss and prioritize weekly.

The things that remain on your list should feel more appropriate and strategic, and then you just need to prioritize which ones need your attention first (consider the classic quadrant: urgent and important, not urgent and important, urgent and not important, and not urgent and not important). Getting into this habit is key for any leader, and the more you can delegate and elevate, the more you’ll be spending your time on the things that will have the most impact on the organization.

If you want to grow yourself as a leader and be a better delegator and elevator, email me at with the secret password DELEGATE in the subject line and I’ll send you a very simple tool from our friends at EOS to help you understand where you should be spending your time and what you should delegate.

Chris Wills About Chris Wills

Father Time, or Chris Wills, is passionate about helping other leaders learn and grow and free up time they didn’t think they had. He is the Founder of Student Paths, an organization that better prepares students for their future in college, career and life readiness. You can reach Chris at:

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