Two Jobs You Should Never Delegate

“Whether a man is burdened by power or enjoys power; whether he is trapped by responsibility or made free by it; whether he is moved by other people and outer forces or moves them — this is of the essence of leadership.” – Theodore H. White (“The Making of the President”)

As a general rule, you want to delegate as much work as you possibly can. This is an absolute requirement for a growing business. As sales increase, so do problems — small problems, medium problems, and big problems. Your job as an executive is to delegate all the small- and medium-sized problems to subordinates so you have time to concentrate on the big ones yourself.

If you are lucky enough to have a superstar working for you, you’ll be able to delegate some of the big problems too. That is exactly how it should be. The senior, experienced people handle the newest, most challenging issues, while the more routine stuff gets worked on by less experienced, less knowledgeable employees who can, nevertheless, do a fine job with it.

However, as the head (or up-and-coming head) of your profit center, there are some jobs that you should never delegate. Most of them fall into one of two categories:

1. the ultimate responsibility for sales . . . and

2. the ultimate responsibility for product quality

Putting yourself in charge of generating sales is smart because it keeps you in the primary power position. (The man who holds the cash spigot gets credit for the cash flow.) It’s also smart because — if things ever turn against you — the skills you will hone as sales honcho for your business will enable you to find another job or start your own knock-off business.

And you want to maintain control over the quality of your product because it’s crucial to your ongoing success in the marketplace. If standards start to deteriorate — even if the change is incremental and hardly noticeable — it can kill your business.

There are basically two reasons businesses normally fail. Either they forget how to make the initial sale or they allow their products to become noticeably worse than the other, similar products in the marketplace. If both things happen simultaneously, the business is almost sure to fail — and fast.

That’s why I recommend that you delegate everything else you can as fast as you can (with control) but save sales and product quality for yourself.