10 Reasons Leaders Don’t Delegate

If honest when asked why a leader doesn’t delegate, here is what the person might say:

  1. I enjoy what I do and don’t want to give it up.
  2. I feel like I would be admitting failure or limitations.
  3. I think it makes me look important to be busy.
  4. I like to maintain control.
  5. I don’t know if I can trust other people to do it right.
  6. I am afraid the person might try to do more than asked.
  7. I don’t want to risk someone quitting before the job is completed.
  8. I am unwilling for things to be done differently than what I might do them.
  9. I don’t want to invest time and effort into training someone else.
  10. I fear the person might do a better job than me and consequently make me look bad.

Notice the word “I.” Lack of delegation is about keeping things all about me … usually an outgrowth of pride or insecurities. But, what about the opportunities and growth it would provide for others?

If you struggle with delegating responsibilities, think about the basis and benefits of getting others involved. Learn the skill of delegating and many of the above reasons will disappear.

11 Replies to “10 Reasons Leaders Don’t Delegate”

  1. As a long term leader, from my very early days in the Boy Scouts, to Church Youth Groups, High School, College (School of Management), and Military, I can rightly say that delegating authority to appropriately mature and capable subordinates is key to organization success, yet a leader cannot delegate responsibility. Also, “leadership” should not be deemed a power trip because there are many leaders inately adaptive to handling authority without being the “top dog”.

    • Thank you, Winston, for pointing out the distinction between delegating responsibility (a character quality) and responsibilities (tasks for which they are given authority to accomplish). To be sure, we cannot delegate responsibility in terms of that inner quality that makes a person conscientious and serious about doing the task they have been given well. That should be a quality we look for in a person to whom we delegate. If we are careful in selecting the person(s) and make the parameters of their authority clear, we can usually prevent power struggles. And, as a leader, we then don’t have to hold too tightly to the reigns.

  2. So how do you follow someone under this type of Leadership? I am currently in a position with a person who has this responsibilty, yet admits some of these things and refuses to delegate except when they give up total control without giving any information as to how to lead apart from them, so that others have no information to lead on their own. Then the leader seems to lecture how to do the job correctly after the fact.

    • Let me refer you to a post, What Do You Think About Your Pastor?, that references pastors but could apply to any type of ministry leader and the issue bringing frustration could pertain to the issues related to delegation about which you wrote. It looks at 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 which concludes, “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” That phrase is the important thing to remember when reading that post. While it might seem like a simplistic response, “this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In reality, actually doing all that is listed there is far from easy. Let me recommend that you think through the list at the bottom of that post in regard to your specific situation. What are the implications of each instruction for you? What will the application of it look like for you? How might following these commands change the situation, but even more, you?

      Let me also point you to the 40 Day Challenge to Help You Maintain a Healthy Perspective which could be a helpful tool. Sometimes we just need to keep telling ourselves the truth about a situation over and over and over again.

  3. Several thoughts come to mind upon reading the 10 reasons why leaders don’t want to delegate.
    1. Do they have the God given talent to be leader?
    2. If they do, they need more training!!!

    • Yes, Norm. I can see how many of these reasons can make you wonder what is missing. Perhaps we can add a need for passion to your list … a passion for God, His design for the church, and the privilege to serve in cooperation with the King of kings and Lord of lords. Perhaps we could add a need for perspective to your list … perspective of why we are doing what we do, that it is about God and His desires not us and what makes us feel comfortable. — Whatever the reason, we need to be real with God and with ourselves.

  4. 1. As a leader, you have to share your goals of the organization or they will not go anywhere.
    2. None of us are perfect. We all can use others advice. They have been through experiences that we haven’t.
    3. Just “busy” or active?
    4. How much control? Too much and you are not a leader as you don’t need any managers.
    5. Then you haven’t done your job and provided training an insight to your goals.
    6. You need people with creative and maintainer skills or else you will be humdrum.
    7. As a leader one of your motivational gifts should be an encourager.
    8. There should always be a potential of being able to perform a task more efficiently.
    9. Then I would question your role as a leader!
    10. Whenever a task is accomplished more efficiently, everyone in the team will benefit and other leaders will see the results.

    • Thank you, Norm, for counter-responses to each of the reasons people might use for not delegating. We need to consider the truth of our situation in order to be the leader that serves in line with God’s desires and design.

  5. My main problem with delegating tasks is they usually let me down in execution. Even when I give all the resources available to them, and give them flexibility for their own creativity and give them options with boundaries. The responsibility factor is what usually falls short. My expectations aren’t that high anymore because of this.

    • To be sure, Laura, delegating is not always easy and does not always produce the results you wish for which is why many people don’t delegate. Leaders who want to live within God’s design of Body Life and helping everybody do their part really need to look at delegating as more than a way to get the task accomplished. It’s a way to disciple people. Discipleship doesn’t usually go in a straight line but can have ups and downs as people learn and grow. Through it, we will undoubtedly find times we will have to exercise 1 Thessalonians 5:14 — “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” Bottom line: It helps to look at delegating as more of a PROCESS of helping people learn to do their part. When we look at it merely as a way of getting things accomplished, we are more likely to find ourselves getting discouraged when people don’t effectively do their part. When we look at delegating as a process of discipleship, we still may face disappointments when people don’t fulfill their responsibilities, but we use these times as ways to assess the needs of people and as stepping stones to further help them. This kind of approach to delegating changes our perspective when it doesn’t go as we had hoped.