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This might be true for James Bond* but is it really for the rest of us? It is surprising how often I talk to people who feel overwhelmed and stressed and yet they refuse to delegate. They’ve got themselves into a destructive loop that says it’ll take too long to explain to someone else and they’ll not do as good a job anyway so it’s faster and best to do it themselves.


This is not just an issue of overloading one person. This attitude creates tensions in teams, frustration for colleagues and, in the worst cases, leaves essential tasks undone or done in a rush by someone with too much on their plate.

If you recognise yourself or a colleague then a few of these excuses could sound familiar …

‘There isn’t time to explain this’ 

You are right that it takes a bit of time to delegate effectively, but you have to start somewhere. Enabling the people you manage to build up their skills and experience is an important part of being a manager and leader. If you don’t know how to do it, try some simple coaching skills. It is by far the best way to equip people for future challenges – and it’s what you’re paid to do.

‘I haven’t got time to manage this’

Isn’t this what you’re paid to do as a manager? Doing everything yourself is not management, it’s not leadership and it can destroy teams (as well as you) with frustration and overload. Getting it right with effective delegation will give a much better return for the business on the investment of your time in the long run.

‘I can do a better job than anyone else’

Really? Would you say that out loud to your team? I doubt it and, even if it’s true it’s not going to help when you’re overwhelmed, off sick with stress and other people have to pick up the task and deliver without your advice or support. Other people might do it differently to you, or in a slightly different timescale, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Different does not equal bad.

A refusal to delegate is one of the triggers that I’ve included in my simple online Space to think diagnostic. Have a look, see if you recognise any of the other comments and, if so, please get in touch. I’m working on ways to avoid the overwhelm by enabling stressed people to create space to think and it might be worth us having a conversation.

* Nobody does it better was the theme song for the Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, written and sung by Carly Simon. My apologies if it’s now an earworm for the rest of your day.

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