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By Trivinia Barber, speaker, author & founder of Priority VA, a team placement and leadership development company that helps leaders build teams they can trust.

Most of us are creatures of habit. Repetition is great when we’re on the right track, but it can also mean getting caught in a rhythm of doing everything ourselves and not letting others help us in our leadership.

I don’t want to be that kind of leader. I want to elevate the already great work my team, and I do to be even better. I believe we make this happen through delegation.

If you’re new to delegation, it feels unnatural in the beginning. Much like flexing a new muscle, the movements feel awkward and hard. But just because you feel rusty, or don’t think you are doing a good job, doesn’t mean you should abandon this practice.

You can make delegation a successful habit you repeatedly do. My best advice to get better is simply to talk yourself into delegating more often.

Optimize Your Time

One of the top complaints I hear from executive assistants that I have recently placed with a CEO is that their leader just won’t give them anything to do. This is a poor use of resources, as your EA is sitting there twiddling their thumbs. It also puts you out of practice for learning how to let go.

In a new relationship, it’s normal to want to build trust before you delegate. But ideally, you should offload more and more work as time goes on. Just like with exercise, you have to put in the reps to gain strength. You also have to be willing to challenge yourself and change the exercise or add more weight altogether.

Many leaders will stay inside their comfort zone with delegation. This is easier to a degree, but it underutilizes your executive assistant and keeps a lot of work on your plate. We don’t want that.

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If you don’t know where to start or what to let go of, ask your EA. Ask them if there’s anything they’d like to be doing that they’re not doing yet. Or write down what you want to let go of but are afraid of having someone else do.

Let that clarity be a starting point for a conversation with your EA. No one is asking you to let go of everything before you are ready. In a gym, that would lead to injury. Think of these increases in delegation as gradual movements.

Working With Your Executive Assistant

Ask your EA, “How can we work together so I can slowly hand this off to you? What could that process look like?” Your EA has more strategies up their sleeve than you may realize.

For example, if you’re scared to let go of inbox management, let your EA write a sample email draft response. Provide feedback and then let them send it on your behalf. This provides a little touchpoint for you to see how they would approach the work, without you being out of the picture.

Strive to challenge yourself 1% more every single week. If you’re afraid to let go of travel management, can you document your preferences for flights, lodging and rental cars and let your EA put together a sample itinerary for a destination city?

You were never meant to do everything on your to-do list. The more time you spend holding on to work for fear of letting go is keeping you from work that is the most valuable use of your time.

I know that as an entrepreneur you’re not always patient enough to slow down to teach someone how to do work for you. But just like you have to slow down to perfect your form with a new exercise, you have to be willing to do the same with your team. In time, you will build strength and muscle memory!

Think about it. If today you let your EA draft an email response for you, maybe tomorrow you’re letting them hit send on that draft. Then in two weeks, they’re responding to customers without you even reading the email exchange.

Gradual growth is still growth. Talk yourself into delegating more often. Get curious about what’s holding you back and leverage your EA for assistance to help you become a stronger delegator.

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