It’s been nearly a decade since Lori Lord pulled all-nighters at work, often writing and reviewing 400-page request for proposals (RFP) into the early hours.
Back then, Lord who is now chief executive officer of Toronto-based home nursing provider Spectrum Health Care, didn’t want anyone else doing the work.
Those RFPs were critical to the company’s growth, she said, and she controlled them tightly.
“These were so important for our organisation and I wouldn’t let anyone else put the document together,” Lord said. She was convinced nobody else in the company could do it exactly right — so she just did it herself. She could do it better anyway, she thought.
Sound familiar? Then you might be an anti-delegator. Even if you aren’t, you likely know someone who is.
A 2013 executive coaching survey, conducted by Stanford University, found that 35% of chief executives say delegating is something that they need to improve, while 37% said they’re trying to improve these skills. While Lord’s deputising has improved over the years, she said it’s been difficult to learn.
“It’s not easy, but… you can’t possibly do it all yourself,” she said.
Delegating is one of the more challenging aspects of leadership, and it actually gets harder to do the higher someone goes up the corporate ladder, said Laura Lunsford, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona in the US.
It’s a struggle for two reasons. Most people know that work needs to get done, but they can’t properly articulate what the end result should look like, so it’s just easier to do it themselves. Executives also have difficulty giving up control, especially if they’ll get blamed when something goes wrong, Lunsford said.