How to Delegate: 13 Tips for Hands-On CEOs

Members of the Young Entrepreneur Council explain how hands-on CEOs can get more comfortable with delegation.

Published on Jan. 04, 2021
How to Delegate: 13 Tips for Hands-On CEOs
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Headshots of contributing YEC members
Top row, from left: Diego Orjuela, Marjorie Adams, Solomon Thimothy. Second row, from left: Thomas Griffin, Swapnil Shinde, Stephanie Wells, Syed Balkhi. Third row, from left: Kelly Richardson, Codie Sanchez, Daisy Jing. Bottom row, from left: Andrew Schrage, Blair Williams, John Turner.

When you first started your business, you were likely very hands-on with all aspects of your company. As your business has grown and youve hired more people, you may have found that youre struggling to step back and let go of the day-to-day tasks that helped get the company off the ground.

Although its good for a CEO to remain involved in the business, you also need to know when to delegate and start giving more power to your employees. This process can be tough for someone whos used to doing everything themselves, but there are ways to practice and get better at handing off business tasks.

To help, we asked 13 members of the Young Entrepreneur Council to share their best delegation strategies for CEOs who want to empower their teams. Heres what they recommend.

1. Hire the Right Team in the First Place

Be sure you hire the right employees! Dont try to save a buck by hiring employees who are new in the space. Hire those you can completely trust with your business so that you have no worries about stepping back and empowering them to do more. Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

2. Give Employees Time to Solve Problems

Be quiet and let employees solve problems  and believe me, I still have to tell myself this constantly. Giving a solution to a problem is much less effective in the long term, though. As the saying goes, instead of just giving them a fish, teach them how to catch one. This approach doesnt mean that you dont step in when needed, but first, try to give employees time to work things out and come to a decision. Marjorie Adams, Fourlane

3. Shift Your Mentality About What You Need to Do as a Leader

Realizing that youre not supposed to personally do everything in your business requires a major mental shift. Your job as a leader is to find and empower those who will carry out tasks. Youll never be able to grow at scale if youre going to be the only person who understands all the processes. I used to make this exact mistake until I realized that the best thing I could do for my business was to fire myself. Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

4. Set Values for Decision-Making

The best way to empower your employees is to set clear values for decision-making. Create a team that values initiative and doesnt fear failure. Train your employees to prioritize their work so you know that you have a responsible team handling things on your behalf. Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

5. Simultaneously Build Your Team Top-Down and Bottom-Up

Adjust your hiring strategy. Rather than solely taking a bottom-up approach  a team with lots of doers and you at the helm take a top-down and bottom-up approach. Building the team top-down allows you to surround yourself with extremely able leaders who can develop their team and operations. By simultaneously building the team bottom-up, you have doers to execute quickly with the support and direction of your leadership team. Swapnil Shinde, Zeni Inc.

6. Only Hire People You Trust

If you cant trust your team, then you have no business hiring one. Its important to respect them enough to trust them and leave them in charge when you cant be there or need to take time off. If you struggle with this, it might help to talk to them one-on-one so you know they understand their duties and can handle the job. Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

7. Make Gradual Changes to Your Day-to-Day Involvement

Make gradual changes rather than a single, sharp change in how involved you are in your company. This slow rollout helps you fix any issues that come up, and youll also develop confidence in your team. When I started reducing the number of meetings I attended, I came online but stayed quiet. Later, I simply looked up the agenda and added comments. In this way, I phased out my attendance at certain meetings. Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

8. Stop Thinking You Know Best

During the initial stages of any startup, the key factor for its growth and success is delegation and systemization. Don’t have a false notion that you can do everything and that you know your business better than anyone else. Without the aid of other people, you’ll eventually run out of time and motivation. So, start trusting your employees and give them the power to take on operations. Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz

9. Be Gracious and Detail-Oriented

It isn’t easy. You have to remember that, at first, most people may not do the job as well as you. If they could, theyd be in your CEO chair. My best advice: Be gracious, be detail-oriented and let people take a shot. Pair this with very clear incentives and outlines on expectations, and you’ll thank yourself. Codie Sanchez, Contrarian Thinking & Entourage Effect Capital

10. Use Your Team’s Diversity to Your Advantage

I delegate to people whose strengths are in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogging and so on. I delegate specific tasks for the writer, photo expert, social media customer rep and video editor. I use my team’s diversity of skills to a huge advantage by making sure that they do the task they’re most knowledgeable in and experienced with. Its like having a mini-me in the company. Daisy Jing, Banish

11. Prioritize Communication

It’s not an impossible task to hand power over to employees in a company where you once had a firm rule. The key is communication. Communicate your culture, communicate your passion, communicate everything you possibly can. If you have high-quality folks around you, they’ll probably respond better than you think they will. Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

12. Clearly Document Your Processes and Workflows

A simple but effective step is to document all important activities and KPIs. When people know what is expected of them and what the outcome should be, theyll have guidelines that will always help them when challenges come up. Start by documenting processes and workflows. Then you can gently guide people into doing these things themselves. Blair Williams, MemberPress

13. Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture

Theres no question that first-time CEOs struggle with giving up control, especially when developing their first product. I think its necessary to learn how to delegate design tasks to the rest of your team, however. You dont want to get caught up in the details and miss the big picture. John Turner, SeedProd LLC

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