As you look at your “to do” list, how many items on your list are items that you and only you should be doing? If you’re like most business owners and entrepreneurs chances are you have far more items on your list than just those that “you and only you” should be doing.

So, what gives? The idea of delegation isn’t new to you. You’ve hired employees. You’ve given away a lot of tasks. Yet, here you are, day after day with tons of tasks on your “to do” lists, that you really shouldn’t be doing. When you see a pattern like that you ought to ask the “Why?” question.

And to help you get started on that journey, here are a five of the more common reasons why entrepreneurial leaders often don’t delegate more.

1. Perfectionism

While you may not use that word, you may prefer the phrase, “I have high standards” or “I expect excellence,” the result is the same. You keep doing work you shouldn’t be doing because what you expect your people to do and what they’re capable of doing, are two different things.

However, your goal as a leader should not be to get things done at 100% of the level of your expectations. You goal as a leader should be to produce results through people. As a leader, your job is to leverage the time, talents, resources, networks, intellectual property, etc. of other people so that the net result of those efforts is greater than if you were to do all the work on your own.

What that means is that if you’re holding on to work that others could/should be doing because you think you’re the only one who can do that work at the level of your expectations, then you’ve got a problem that you need to own up to. It’s not that you can’t delegate more, it’s that your perfectionism is getting in the way.

Any time one of your team members or outsourcers can do a task that you’re doing, at 80% or better of the level you can, you should delegate that task.

So, is perfectionism keeping you from delegating more? If so, own it and begin using the 80% rule.

2. Competency

At first glance, being competent doesn’t sound like a problem, but it is. Why? Because the more competent you are, the more likely it is that you’ll feel like you should be the one doing that thing. For example, if you’re really good at spreadsheets and a spreadsheet needs to be created to evaluate something in your business, are you going to ask your admin or a staff member to create the spreadsheet or will you create it?

We all get stuck here. Why? Because when we’re good at doing something, it just “feels” weird/wrong to give it away. But, once again, that’s not your job or mine. We should only be focused on those tasks that we and only we can or should be doing.

So, is your own competency getting in the way of you delegating more?

3. Enjoyment

Let’s be honest, there are several things you know you should be delegating away that you don’t, simply because you enjoy doing them. For example, I have a client who has a $1M+ business, who years ago fell in love with doing graphic arts work—even worse, he’s really good at it.

So, when we look at his calendar and notice how much time he spends doing graphics work and I ask him, “Why won’t you delegate this away?” he almost always responds with something like, “But it’s one of my favorite things to do.” I know. But as the senior leader of a large organization, he needs to delegate that task away (or only do it when he has margin in his schedule).

In your case, are there certain tasks you know you ought to delegate away but you’re not simply because you enjoy them?

4. Not Valuing Your Time

As an entrepreneurial leader, chances are you work a lot of hours. In addition, my guess is that there was a time when you did everything for your business. So, it’s just natural to not value the cost of our time (i.e. it’s normal to emotionally get “stuck” in the early years). But not valuing your time now is a huge mistake.

For example, to make the math simple, if you’re working 2,500 hours per year and your take home is $250K, then your “hourly wage” is equivalent to $100/hr. So, if you’re doing a task that someone who’s paid $20/hour can do, then you just blew $80—and that’s only for one hour.

What if you’re wasting 10 hours per week doing work that someone else, who’s paid $20/hr. could be doing. How much money are you losing? Over the course of a year, that’s $80 x 10 hours x 50 weeks = $40K, and that’s not taking into account all the costs associated with you not focusing on the major tasks you should have been focused on (which could cost you and your business anywhere from $100K to $1M or more).

So, how has not valuing your time affected your ability to delegate more?

5. Not Knowing How to Delegate Well

Let’s be honest. Most business people are dumpers, not delegators. They just want to get something off their plate so they turn to an employee and say, “Get this done.” No clear directions. No clear expectations. No coaching. No clarity on the level of authority given. Etc. It’s a mess.

What that means is that there’s a high probability that you don’t know how to delegate well simply because you’ve never seen great delegation or learned how to be a great delegator. And when we don’t know what great performance looks like, it’s hard to create it.

So, as you look at your own reasons for why you don’t delegate more, how much of that has been affected by you not really knowing how to delegate well?

Well, there you go. Five potential reasons why you’re not delegating more.

1. Perfectionism
2. Competency
3. Enjoyment
4. Not Valuing Your Time
5. Not Knowing How to Delegate Well

There are several other reasons why, but these five should get you started. And started you’ll want to be. Why? Because no matter what you know, if you have beliefs or mental limitations that hinder those actions, you won’t consistently act on what you “know.” Instead you’ll continue to act consistent with your beliefs, and that means you’ll stay stuck with too much to do on your plate. Instead, own and then fix your delegation misbeliefs, and you’ll be well on your way to delegation mastery and new-found freedom!


Bruce D. Johnson is the author of Breaking Through Plateaus and the President of Wired to Grow. He helps owners, entrepreneurs and service professionals grow their businesses faster with less stress and more predictability. To learn more about Bruce, visit