Executive Leadership: a New Way to Approach Delegation

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John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

I get it, John. And I agree with you!

I need to hire a VA.

I need to delegate more.


The above is a compilation of the many conversations I’ve had with business owners recently on the subject of delegation and hiring assistant help.

They know they need to do it.

They’re facing problems like these:

  • having to turn down work because they can’t handle the additional business
  • in desperate need of staff and can’t find/hire people
  • have no time, pulled in all directions, buried and overwhelmed

The solutions are pretty straightforward.

Yet they find themselves stuck.

Despite knowing the solutions, many business owners struggle to act when it comes to hiring help

There’s a reason for this.

It’s partially a mindset shift.

A need to change their thinking from the first statement below to the second:

And it’s partially a misunderstanding of what it means to delegate – and the difference between thinking like a manager vs thinking like an executive leader.

Let me explain.

In the beginning, your org chart looks like this:

You wear all the hats.

You do the sales and marketing.

You deliver the products or services.

You provide customer service.

You do all the administrative things from bookkeeping to scheduling to emails.

As your business grows, you begin to hire people to do things for you

Your org chart starts to look like this.

Congratulations! You are now a manager!

The problem is that many business owners stop here at the manager level.

When you think about “hiring a VA” or “implementing a recruiting program” from a manager-level perspective, you believe you’ll need to:

  • Itemize the tasks they’ll need to do
  • Train them how to do them
  • Provide written instructions
  • Check their work and give them feedback

When you look at it this way, you may put off hiring a VA because that sure looks like a whole lot of work that would take a whole lot of time that you don’t have right now.

This level of thinking also puts you into the “Hub and Spoke” position.

What’s needed is the next level of thinking.

That’s the role of executive leader.

When you step into the role of executive leader, you hire people who are better at the thing you need done than you are.

Instead of assigning them “tasks” you give them areas of responsibility.

You probably already do this to some extent.

  • Your lawyer knows more about the law than you do
  • Your accountant knows more about taxes than you do
  • Your web developer knows more about building websites than you do

So you don’t feel you need to tell them how to draft contracts or file your taxes or write CSS code.

What if you extended this thinking towards your VA?

Let me give you an example.

Before I was a business coach, I was an executive.

Back in the day, Cindy, my personal assistant walked in to my office every morning with 3 file folders.

And every day she would say: “Here’s your agenda. Here’s your calendar. Here’s what you need for this meeting. Here’s what you need to make decisions on.”

I was the pilot – and she was the air traffic controller. Everything I needed was organized by Cindy. She looked after everything except the items that only I could handle or that required my input.

I didn’t manage Cindy. Cindy managed me!

When you think like an executive leader, you assign an area of responsibility, then you ask them what they need from YOU.

What if you outsourced your “recruiting and hiring problem” to a recruiter?

Instead of thinking through all of the steps and telling them what to do and how to do it – simply ask them to deliver what you want.

“I set aside 3 hours on my calendar three weeks from today. I’d like you to schedule interviews with 5 qualified candidates. What do you need from me to do that?”

Executive leaders delegate at a higher level.

They’re willing to let go of control.

As a result, they can pass off a LOT of the heavy lifting.

Ready to become an executive leader? Why not delegate “getting to the next level” to a business coach? 😉 You can book 15 minutes on my calendar to chat about it here: book a call with John

The Ultimate Guide to Scaling Your Business

w5 what does it mean to scale your business

How to grow your business without sacrificing time freedom

This post is part of my Ultimate Guide to Scaling Your Business. Visit the guide homepage to get my best advice and coaching exercises to help you:

  • Develop systems and processes to free up your time
  • Hire and manage a great team to run your business (mostly) without you
  • Make the mindset changes that enable you to grow your business bigger - faster than you dreamed possible