Delegating isn't just to direct reports. (Don't let your team's full plate be an excuse.)

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Delegating isn’t just to direct reports

Sometimes your most valuable insight is figuring out what you need to stop doing.

The common call for leaders is to delegate more. And when your direct reports are just as busy as you are (or when you have no direct reports) delegation may not feel possible.

But here are some ways you can delegate even when your team is too busy.

👉 Delegate to a colleague. Through ongoing relationship building, learn what your colleagues value. Make a practice of giving favors that create more value for others than they cost you. And when you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for a favor.

👉 Delegate to a computer. Many tasks can be automated or simplified. AI now makes automated help available in many areas we once thought had to be done by humans. Even if you’ve disqualified a task from automation in the past, think again.

👉 Delegate to an outside firm. The more senior you become, the more often it makes sense to bring in a contractor or temporary agency to tackle special projects or hire a specialty firm to handle ongoing overhead tasks.

👉 Delegate to your future self. Strategic procrastination is often the most valuable approach for a task. Sometimes, changing the due date of a task to next week, next month, or next quarter is exactly the right solution.

👉 Delegate to the floor. When you feel like you’re juggling too many balls, you may need to choose which ones to set down so you won’t drop all of them. Sometimes choosing not to do something means it simply doesn’t get done, and that can be the best decision.

👉 Delegate to a direct report anyway. Yes, even if they’re already busy. What a great opportunity to help them learn about all of the other opportunities for delegation! You may need to mentor them through how they’ll shed some of their responsibilities, and you may need to accept your own consequences when some of them are delegated to the floor.

Staying too busy for too long invites surprise failures. By choosing some of these less obvious ways to delegate your overwork, you can keep your attention on the most important work you can continue to do with excellence.

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