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Make The Shift from Doer to Leader

When I was in corporate, we’d promote people from employee to leader and we just assumed a magic transformation would happen - that they’d shed the identity they had as a doer, and transform into a leader who was comfortable coaching, delegating and making hard decisions. This is especially challenging for women who navigate an extra layer of challenges like ditching the unpaid workload.

Yet, a critical mindset needs to happen - either through coaching, mentoring or good leadership development, and it’s this:

As leaders, we have to make the shift from doer and fixer to leader and coach. We can’t have it both ways. We can choose be the one who does everything and enjoys rewards as an individual contributor, or we can learn to delegate and embrace the rewards that come from coaching people through the learning process.


Still, when I'm working with a client who is feeling overworked and overwhelmed, she often tells me that she can’t delegate because people seem to make high-impact mistakes.

This is true when we wait to delegate tasks when the stakes are high. We are holding on to everything like glue because shifting your mindset around delegating is hard work. But then, unmanageable workloads would force us to delegate—often in high-stakes moments when the tolerance for mistakes is low.

This creates a chaotic scenario in which the tension is already high, and we are expecting big things from a team member who may have little to no experience delivering on such a high-profile project.The key here is to start delegating when the stakes are low.

We have a higher tolerance for making mistakes in low-stakes situations. So, if you’re looking to develop someone’s presentation skills, what low-risk environments can you place an individual in while they gain comfort in building up their skills so they can make mistakes safely?

Then, when they are called to the table when the stakes are high, they have confident repetitions under their belt.

To make the shift from doer to leader, the mindset shift may be the hardest of all. We spend most of our lives earning accolades as the fixer, the achiever and the responsible ones. So, when we are promoted into leadership, we can choose be the one who does everything and enjoys rewards as an individual contributor, or we can learn to delegate and embrace the rewards that come from coaching people through the learning process. If you want to lead more by doing less, you can’t have it both ways.

Here are four self-coaching questions to help you slow down and discover what is yours to own so you can make the shift from doer to leader:

  1. Is this a development opportunity for me?

  2. Who would benefit from it?

  3. How can I give them authority to own this task?

  4. What does support - without takeover - look like from me?

Are you working on an activity or project that is no longer a development opportunity for you? Delegate it. Someone on your team is hoping for opportunities to grow, and these make perfect circumstances to do so.

🔥 What can you delegate to someone else this week because it would be a better development opportunity for them versus you?



To read more about how to Lead More By Doing Less, grab a copy of my book, Closing The Confidence Gap: Boost Your Peace, Your Potential & Your Paycheck, HERE.

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