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The Duties Every New CEO Needs to Learn to Delegate

Being the leader of a company means that you have a lot of responsibilities. But eventually, you have to shift some of those to other people: “As head of the company, you’re likely to be in charge of everything from hiring to bookkeeping. And that’s as it should be in those early days, when there’s so much to do and so few resources to do it with,” says H.O. Maycotte, CEO of Umbel.

He continues, “But if you want to grow, you have to let go. At a certain point, you just can’t do it all. And more to the point, you shouldn’t — because there are people out there who can do a lot of it much better than you.”

What to delegate.

The question is: Which tasks should you delegate and which should you keep on your own plate? What tasks are appropriate to give to your employees, and which ones should you do yourself? Striking the right balance and giving yourself and your employees a manageable workload is possible when you remember to delegate the following duties.

Things you’re not good at.

You’re the CEO, so obviously you’re good at a lot of things, like getting funding, coming up with moneymaking ideas, and creating an unmatched business strategy. That’s why you should be focused on those things, and as Mayotte suggests, delegate things that others can do better than you.

This could be anything, from logistics, to event planning, or even getting yourself to the airport on time. It also applies to things that aren’t in your wheelhouse. If your background is in finance, don’t try to get intertwined in the marketing side of your business—focus on high-level strategy, that’s it.

This is also a great opportunity to recognize your employees’ strengths and value to the organization:

“Assign tasks based on each person’s best skills, or—if appropriate—based on the skills people are trying to develop. For example, if you’re delegating decisions about a conference event coming up, pick a person who consistently nails logistics and who’s good with vendors,” suggests Cameron Smith, writer for the Muse.

You have intelligent people on your team—that you put there—so play to your strengths, and allow your team to do the same.

Processes that already function well.

It takes a long time to create systems and processes that function effectively between employees and manages. Once you’ve developed the system, there’s no reason why you should still be directly involved. The systems are there to allow employees to function on a day-to-day basis being efficient and effective—without being overseen by you. As CEO, directly managing systems that are already efficient means that you’re doing your job inefficiently.

If you want to take this over because the processes aren’t working any more, focus on helping the team improve, rather than taking the task:

“Employees can’t deliver quality results if the task delegated to them isn’t fully thought out, or if expectations keep changing. Take the time and develop the discipline to map out exactly what you’re asking for. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” explains Michelle Randall, contributor to Entrepreneur.com.

Anything you want your team to perform eventually.

This is one of the best ways to get your team to learn. Assign them a task, but don’t tell them how you usually complete it. Instead, have them find their own way so instead of answering questions, you can focus on the duties that should be on your plate.

This type of delegating also teaches them to be resourceful and gives them a chance to create their own processes: “While he [Bob Marsh, CEO] could simply tell his sales team how he'd like them to do a specific task, he finds that it's more effective to ask someone to take the lead on the activity so they can get the team together and come up with best practices,” says Paula Andruss, Entrepreneur contributor.

Tasks you’ve already delegated.

How can you re-delegate a task you’ve already delegated? Picture a normal workday. You’ve delegated several tasks, and your morning is going well. Then, someone you’ve delegated a task to says that he or she can’t complete it. You take the task back and finish it yourself. You’ve managed to waste half an hour of your own time, and your employee has learned nothing from the interaction.

This situation is commonly called ‘reverse delegating’ and it’s something you should avoid, as it offers no benefit to your business. If an employee comes to you with a task they can’t complete, coach them through it, so they’ll be able to do it themselves next time or delegate it to someone else, explains Randall.

She continues, “That way, you’ll still be free to focus on other things, and the employee will be better equipped to carry out similar tasks in the future. The bottom line? Don’t take tasks back.”

Risky decisions that drive growth.

Personal failure was the greatest fear among polled Americans, and as CEO, you’re no exception. The trouble is, the company is your baby. You’re personally invested in it, as you should be. But with the well being of the business tied so closely to your own well being, you risk making decisions to avoid that “failure” you’re so fearful of, rather than making the risky decisions necessary to can propel the company forward.

Next time you have a risky decision to make, invite your shareholders or trusted mentors to discuss it with you. Having another person there to make risky decisions helps to push you out of your comfort zone. As CEO, you should always be involved in these decisions, but having another trusted opinion may be what you need to take that big leap.

Take your business to the next level by delegating like a champion. Assign the duties that you’re not good at, or that your team is already handling, and focus on the areas where you can provide the most value.

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