Many of us got into Scouting leadership because we wanted to share in the fun and adventure with our sons and wanted to help our pack or troop provide a great program for the boys. “An hour a week,” we were told, and soon found that it’s not always an accurate estimate, “but who’s counting?” we reason, because it’s for our sons and those of our friends and neighbors.
As we climb higher up the tree of adult leadership, though, we may find ourselves taking on more and more responsibilities. “Sure, I’ll do that,” we say, when someone asks us to handle a fundraiser, plan an outing, or serve on a district committee. It will be fun, and we’ll learn new things and meet new people, and we’ll be helping others.
As the chairperson of our unit committee, for instance, we realize that there are almost always more things to do than there are people to do them. Sometimes this is due to a lack of volunteers, but too often it’s because we don’t feel comfortable handing over an important or critical task to someone else. That fun that we were having can soon get blown away as we find ourselves swaying in the breeze from the top branches of that tree we’ve been climbing, and if we go any higher we feel like the branch we’re clinging to will snap.
A big problem that many of us have is the unwillingness to delegate tasks. We may feel that we can do the job better than anyone else. “If you want something done right, do it yourself” often resonates through our consciousness, but taking on too many things increases the likelihood that any one of them won’t be done right after all. We feel like we’re giving up control by handing a job over to someone else, but what we’re really doing is overtaxing ourselves and underutilizing the talents of others, and running the risk of many jobs not getting done particularly well.
Forbes contributor Elizabeth Grace Saunders has written about an excellent three-step process to break your fear of delegation. Key in this process is recognizing the fear of letting go, of delegating your precious process to someone else. Saunders encourages us to list the pros and cons of delegating and gives us several examples of why we might be reluctant to let someone else take ownership of a responsibility as well as some of the benefits of doing so. She also advises us to be aware of the risks and to manage them – the best way perhaps being giving your support to the person who takes on the job.
Sometimes finding the right people for the job is the hardest part for some, but for others, letting go and giving others a chance to shine is more difficult than adding another hat to the stack that’s already towering on your head. If you are still trying to do everything, do one thing instead: find someone else to do some of that everything. Let them share in the success of your unit and enjoy personal growth through helping out. You’ll be glad you did!
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