11 September 2020

Critical Skills for Excellent CEOs

Being the CEO is no easy job. While there is certainly no one size fits all approach to becoming an exemplary CEO (or manager or team leader), he/she is expected to be equipped with certain skills and qualities to fulfil the role properly. These include, but are certainly not limited to being a strong communicator, excellent negotiator, being adaptable and reliable, having strong vision and knowledge of where the organization is headed, in addition to many others.

As a young entrepreneur and CEO, we are certain that you are always looking for practical tips and advice to better lead your team. For this, Ye! has got you covered! In this series- Critical Skills for Excellent CEOs, we will take a deeper look at five skills that every young founder can (and should) master, to become a top notch CEO and strong leader. In this first part, we are going to take a deeper look at one of the most essential skills for a successful CEO - delegation.

But first…

What is delegation?

The dictionary definition of ‘to delegate’ is: entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself. As a young CEO, it is easy to become overwhelmed by endless meetings and complex responsibilities, which invariably become more challenging as the business grows. As the leader of the business, the CEO must identify his/her priorities with support from a highly functional team, so that they can focus on the core role of the CEO- making big picture, strategic decisions and steering the company. Thus, the ability to assign the right tasks to the right people and transfer certain critical responsibilities to other team members is called ‘delegation’.

Why delegate?

It is a fact that no one CEO can achieve success as a lone wolf or a one-(wo)man show. The beautiful thing about delegation is that it can improve your productivity and that of your team. Not only can you get more done through effective delegation, but your team will get more done too.

As you delegate greater responsibility to your team, and as the business grows, you as the CEO, will give yourself more time and energy to do more thinking. To really think clearly and put together the strategic vision for your business, you need time, and you certainly cannot be bogged down with menial tasks. Giving yourself proper time to think, brainstorm, and look at the big picture will allow you to focus on the important stuff.

By delegating the right taks to the right people, senior managers will be empowered to follow your example. Your senior managers will understand what they must delegate to members of their team, giving them more time to manage, envision projects, set long-term goals and put in place processes to achieve them. Invariably, delegating will have a positive ripple effect because your senior managers will feel empowered to follow your lead and this will give them time to contribute to brainstorming and strategy sessions where their expertise will be needed. All in all, delegating gives leaders, like you, more time to think, strategize, brainstorm, and lead. And as the head of the company, this is what you have set out to do!

How to do delegation right

In a nutshell, delegation is about trust and understanding your team and each members unique strengths and role. Different CEOs may have different styles and preferences in managing their teams, here are some useful tips and rules to follow when delegating, from business experts:

  1. Know yourself and force yourself to ‘let go’ of some work. It might go against your natural sense of ownership in your business to let go, but you need to get rid of the belief that you can do anything and everything by yourself. Don’t wait to delegate. On the contrary, you should recognize the need and scope of tasks you will delegate to others at the start of your entrepreneurial journey and take measures early on to get the right people into these roles. What is most important to note here, is to identify what can be and should be delegated to others, while understanding what only you can do.
  2. Know your team, understand their strengths and weaknesses. Based on your knowledge of  certain individuals’ strengths and qualities, make a determination about who is best to work on what type of tasks, in order to make the smartest delegations. For example, one of your workers may be very fast but lack attention to minute details, while another one is slower but more methodical. To the former, you can delegate tasks you need to be done right away and do not require great attention to details; and you can delegate longer-term methodical, yet non-urgent tasks, to the latter.
  3. Be clear and strategic in your communication. When delegating tasks to others, communication is key! Be clear about your expectations, timelines, the scope of the tasks you want accomplished and the expected outcomes. The more concrete you can be, the easier it is for your team to learn and do exactly what is expected of them. Take a moment to address any questions from the team early on to prevent problems down the line. Be sure to make yourself available to your team and schedule check-ins to monitor their progress. Don’t forget to show gratitude and find a way to get them excited about the task at hand.
  4. Give and receive feedback. It is your responsibility to evaluate how well the job has been done once the task is complete. It is a great opportunity for both you as CEO and for your employees to know how they have handled their assignments and hear what they felt about the task. This also gives the team a sense of ownership over the tasks they completed and builds their confidence in performing similar tasks, or on the contrary, where there were any serious shortcomings, thereby allowing them to understand where they can improve. You can ask them to share what worked well and what could be improved, and carry these takeaways to further improve your managerial skills and organizational productivity as well!

To read more on delegation in details, here are a few selected articles:

Delegation is just one of the critical skills that a CEO should develop. Stay tuned for more segments in this series on other skills you can perfect to be a successful CEO!

Interested to learn more and ask your questions in management to your peers or a business expert? Create your Ye! profile here and start reaching out!

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