A company's ability to develop leadership plays a huge role in its ability to scale. Leadership is the lifeblood that keeps teams productive and focused but can be difficult and expensive to find in new hires. Great leadership in small to mid-sized companies often comes from their ability to develop those leaders.


Developing leadership requires well-cultivated processes. According to Training Mag, only 8% of companies have taken the time to define their unique leadership requirements. But in a 2016 Borderless leadership development survey, leadership development was believed to be the main driver for business results. These statistics show a deep disconnect exists between organizational success and leadership development, which means that if your organization can master a leadership development program you could see tremendous gains.



Delegate vs. relegate

One distinction to consider is the difference between delegating and relegating a task. Relegating a task means to assign that task to an individual in a lower position. Delegating is when you assign a task to someone who essentially takes your place. Instead of "passing it off," you are finding a suitable replacement. Delegating a task is typically seen as the preferable way to hand tasks off professionally. Delegation gives the individual more power over the outcome, and assigning the task isn’t so much giving an order as asking for help. These types of distinctions are important for fostering a collaborative environment.



Avoid the boomerang effect

The "Boomerang Effect" is when you delegate a task, only to have it fail and end up back in your lap. In the end, the task ends up taking longer than if you had just done it yourself. There are a few reasons why the boomerang effect is a common problem for growing companies:


  • Improper training. Sometimes you hand off a task to someone that has not been properly trained in that task. As an owner, you may have done it a thousand times before. But that doesn’t mean that your staff is familiar with it. Make sure that you always have provided proper training in any task before delegating it to a member of your team.


  • Lacking instructions. Even when a member of your team has been trained in a specific task, you still need to make sure that they have descriptive instructions on-hand. Spell out exactly what you would like done, and provide tips for completing it in a timely fashion.


  • Poor choice of delegation. Part of being a great leader is knowing your team members and the areas in which they thrive. Make sure that you are delegating a task to the right person. Choose those that possess a skill set that matches the task.



Overcome your fears

For business owners that have been in charge of their operation for a long time, handing off tasks can be a bit difficult. It may take some time to learn how to overcome that fear. We recommend that you start small, delegating basic tasks to those around you. As you become more familiar with the process, gradually ramp up the importance of the types of tasks that you delegate.

Unfortunately, years of running a company can turn an owner into a bit of a control freak. In the early days of a business, this is often a good trait, as it ensures that ownership is focused and aware of problems within a company. As your business grows, learning how to overcome that need to control all aspects of your business will open new doors and help lead to sustainable growth. Too often the leaders themselves become a bottleneck, with fear getting in the way of progress. Keep going until you are comfortable delegating any task within your business, big or small.



Use career roadmaps for leadership development

For every employee that you hire, work with them to create a career roadmap that helps them get to where they want to go. Not only will this be seen as helpful by the employees in your company, but it will motivate them to stay loyal and try to move up internally.

Work closely with new hires and veteran employees alike to put together roadmaps that lead to senior positions within the company. This not only helps them to ensure that their skills are well-matched with their proposed future within the company, but it gets them thinking critically about future leadership positions. This also gives you a plan for future training for each individual employee.



Develop processes

The only way to truly scale and grow as a company is to allow others to take on more responsibility. However, having others take over important tasks can be a gift when it works out in your favor, and a curse when it backfires. To give yourself the best chance at success, develop processes that make the path to a favorable outcome clear. Without a clear path to success, how can you expect your teams to get it right? Put together training sessions that cover every aspect of a given task and the processes for carrying it out. This provides your team with a proven way to ensure a positive outcome and also provides leadership with peace of mind when delegating tasks.




As a business owner, it can be difficult to begin delegating important tasks to your teams. There is a learning curve both for existing leadership and team members that are looking to step up to the plate. By understanding the roadblocks that could impede you and working to develop processes that assist with the completion of the task, you give your organization the best chance at success.


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