Leadership in Action – To Do or To Teach? That is the question.

“It’s just quicker to do it myself.” Every one of us has said this, from time to time. It’s the choice to train a team member on a new process or simply do it ourselves. In the long run, it is a short-sighted decision.

First, there are many reasons, beyond time constraints, why you should teach, develop and delegate to your team. One reason is, by not giving someone the opportunity to learn a new aspect, you potentially hold back their development, but also it holds you back. How can you be promoted if you are the only one in your department who can do all the key processes?

The short-sighted aspect of the decision is best illustrated through the diagram above. For this example, let’s assume the new process is the monthly department report. This report might require a lot of data gathering, analysis and presentation of conclusions. It is a constant and normally takes you X amount of time (the flat red line). To teach someone else to do it initially would take a lot more time – Y. The conclusion is, “It’s just quicker to do it myself.” Remember, this is a monthly process. It is going to take you X amount of time every month, out of your schedule.

If you look at the impact of the amount of time it would take to teach a team member, that amount of time would keep declining every occurrence – in this case every month. That is the blue line that slopes down to zero. The line slopes down, because as your team member learns the process, less and less of your time is needed in the execution. In a fairly short amount of time, the report is 100% completed within their capability and responsibility.

In the first few months, the amount of time you invest is greater than X. It does not take long for the amount of time you contribute becomes less than X and eventually zero. The red shaded area represents your additional time needed to develop your team member, whereas the blue shaded area represents your return on time invested. Beyond the benefits to your team member and the organization as a whole, the time back to you is worth its weight in gold.

So, what do you do with that new time? Teach more processes. Develop your team. Nurture Growth. You have set yourself up for promotion, since you have developed your team to operate without you. And if the option for promotion doesn’t exist right now? Then, you get to spend more time sharpening your skills and being strategic, providing even more value from you to the organization and to your team.