Delegation: The Entrepreneurs Only Weakness
By Warren Bujol
Cobra Commander, love or hate him, was a go-getter. As a child, all he ever wanted was to dominate the world and avenge the death of his brother Dan, who died in a car accident - while drinking and driving. So, he recruited an army; made them swear allegiance; slapped awesome Cobra logos on all of his equipment/uniforms; and put the free-world in his sights.
Luckily, we don't have to pledge allegiance to Cobra Commander, nor do we have Cobra symbols plastered all over our cars. But, you'll be surprised to know, we aren't free today because Cobra Commander is a cartoon character that doesn't even air anymore (I think), or because he had a weird lisp, and it certainly wasn't because of G.I. Joe. Let's face it, G.I. Joe wasn't exactly a 'tier one' fighting force. It was a hodgepodge assortment of individuals, with oddly specific jobs; hell, they even hired William 'Refrigerator' Perry as their physical fitness instructor. They should've hired Manute Bol. Nope, it's because he was an ineffective delegator. His inability to separate himself from the day-to-day operations of his business, proved to be the only thing between him and success.
But what causes people to have such great ambition? Why do so few people own businesses or have their own armies? Well, we are conditioned to thrive in well-established parameters and static environments. As much as people claim to despise their mundane existence, if they were to be suddenly inserted into a world of chaos and excitement, they would most likely revert to adolescent coping mechanisms, scrambling to find some semblance of routine. Luckily for Americans (depending on which side of the Thanksgiving table you ate at), the founders of this nation had an insatiable lust for adventure. They were hungry like the wolf. Without those risk-taking pilgrims*, we would have never sailed the ocean blue. We would still be eating horrible English food in a gloomy and depressing countryside.
We don't always like them, but we need people who are willing to risk it all, it is how we maintain our perch atop the food-chain. Not all of us are cutout for a life jam-packed with explosions and monster trucks. Most of us live vicariously through the bold, while we stock their shelves and sell their ideas. But why don't we all strive for entrepreneurial freedom (aside from the whole 'risk' thing)? Becoming an entrepreneur does not require above average talents or intelligence; one of the most significant limiting factor (in my opinion) is personality.
Personalities are formed by numerous factors, and can be very difficult to modify after the awkward, pimply years. Type-B personalities, according to cardiologist Meyer Friedman, work steadily and enjoy achievement, but do not become stressed with failure. They are often reflective, and may be creative, but their curiosity rarely drives them beyond their comfort zone. Type A personalities, according to Friedman, are "ambitious, rigidly organized, impatient, anxious, and concerned with time management". Type A's are high-achieving workaholics. They have an insatiable lust for success; they hate delays and ambivalence. They are short-tempered perfectionists, and coincidentally, prone to entrepreneurship. It would only make sense that they are also prone to heart disease and shorter life-spans. Type B's typically have lower stress levels and live longer lives, but Type A's live life to the fullest, even if not by choice.
It’s no wonder that most entrepreneurs have Type-A personalities, and consequently, may be poor delegators. Entrepreneurs are defined (in some aspects) by their impatience and need for perfection. To delegate responsibilities to someone who may be less passionate about the task, leaves the possibility for subpar performance, even if it may not be the case. A highly-driven business owner may feel as if the only way to assure work tasks are completed properly is for them to be done by the entrepreneur personally. To the average person, this idea is ludicrous; delegation is vital to the success of an operation. If I’ve learned anything from Ron Swanson (Parks and Rec), it is to never half-ass two things, whole ass one thing. As an entrepreneur begins to take on too many duties, they cannot help but begin to half-ass several things. This mentality often feeds their delegation deficiency. Type-A personalities probably never developed the communication skills required to effectively voice their intent to subordinates. I imagine their early years were chock-full of slo-motion shots of them walking away from explosions. They didn’t have time to ask for help tying their shoes. Too many asses to kick, not enough time to clearly communicate intent.
Essentially, the perfectionist behaviors that lead type-A personalities to entrepreneurship are the same behaviors that cripple their business ventures with micromanagement. Statistically (I’m pretty sure I googled that), the inability of entrepreneurs to delegate tasks causes many small businesses to fail, and subsequently, shorter lives for high-strung type-A personalities. It's a vicious, self-destructive, entrepreneurial cycle.
Learning to delegate - depending on the size of an operation - is a necessity for entrepreneurs. It would be beneficial for small business owners to set conditions favorable to the delegation process. For instance, when hiring staff, be sure to consider candidates' potential for additional responsibility. By limiting hiring decisions to present needs, you may eventually find that your 'one in the hand' is not worth the 'two in the bush', come delegation time. Learn to anticipate and forecast. A solid forecast can alleviate much of the haste during the hiring process. Personally, as we designed this magazine, I believed we would be capable of managing all tasks involved with running a publication. I would read awesome stories all day/do some art stuff, and Calvin would do everything else. Turns out, there is more to it than that; we needed to someone to run the sales department. In stumbles Jack Gamble. We thought, hell, he's a people person, why not? Terrible idea. Luckily, he's great at several other things*, but we still needed someone to sell. So we looked to Mr. February himself, Justin Mouser. Not only can he sale, he can manage; there's even a good chance he will eventually sell us out of our own company to pave the way for his own empire.
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