How often at your workplace do you hear a colleague complain about a newbie or some other co-worker being so slow, either in learning or action, that “it would be faster if I did it myself”?
You might have thought this way as well. And it would be true—familiarity with our daily tasks allows us to quickly complete them without much hassle.
Such familiarity is also why we rather do things ourselves rather than delegate the work or train a new team member to take it on. It’s simply too cumbersome. We’d have to set aside time where both parties are available to sit down and go through the task step by step. Along the way, there’d be questions and mistakes being made. And then there’s the nagging feeling that the other person simply won’t execute the job as well as we do.
All in all, handing over the work is counter-intuitive, causes delays and bogs us down.
While going it alone has plenty of advantages, it is not without its pitfalls. Have you ever encountered colleagues who always seem to be drowning in a pile of work? They are the busiest people in the entire organization. They are always visible, but never available. They are responsible, but never responsive. They are bottlenecks. They are the work hoarders.
This is a sign of someone who prefers to do it alone. They don’t seek support and have so much pride in their own work that no one else can go near it. And before they know it, the sheer volume of things to be done consumes them.
Go Far, Go Together
A saying, believed to originate from an old African proverb, goes:
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.
This certainly holds true at the workplace too. Going alone may be a fast way to get things done, but can only get you so far. As leaders, it is important not to overlook the long-term efficiency of involving others for the short-term convenience of getting things done by yourself.
Good leaders are willing to spend the time to coach and grow their team members, allowing them to participate in various projects and value-add to their roles.
The next time a task comes along that would be better off having someone else take over in the long term, resist the urge to do it yourself and instead try to involve your team.
Everyone would be glad you let go.
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