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Three Lies and A Truth

Don't Make Excuses, Fix The Problem

Three Lies and A Truth

By: Ross Paterson

(Part 2 of our 4 part series on leadership in the SMB space)

Lie #1: It’s just easier if I do it myself.

Lie #2: I am the only one who can do it.

Lie #3: My people don’t care as much as I do.

XM Truth: Most of us suck at basic delegation; these lies are excuses for not fixing the real problems.

Our work in every organization, from a startup to a $400MM General Contractor, always includes problem solving around delegation and accountability. This might be hard to believe, but the prescriptions are almost exactly the same. (Larger organizations have slightly more complexity.)

  1. Create, articulate, own, and drive VISION (see Part 1).
  2. Create clear roles, expectations, and results. (Job Descriptions)
  3. Get processes out of your head and into a simple playbook.
  4. Train other people to run the plays.
  5. Develop simple rhythms and routines for accountability.


If you looked at the actual work you have done for the last two weeks, there is always a bottom 25-50% of your work that is simple and reproducible (don’t believe Lie #2). Start mastering delegation with these tasks. Have your teammates help with a first draft of the playbook, refine it and train others to do this work. Then stop doing it.

Let me show you what this is worth. Let’s say it took you 4 days this week (32 hours) to break that bottom 25% of your work down into a playbook (approximately 10 hours of weekly work).  Now for the remaining 35 weeks in the year someone else does that work for your business. You just bought 350 hours to work ON your business instead of IN it. That is almost nine 40-hour work weeks or two full months. Why don’t you have time to do this?


Want to know if delegation is working well in your SMB?  Have everyone on your team take this simple, six question yes/no survey?
  1. I feel safe here and connected to the purpose.
  2. I know who my leader is, they know me.
  3. I know my job and what success looks like.
  4. I know how my job fits with the team and how my team makes money for the business.
  5. I get candid and regular feedback from my leader on performance.
  6. My leader regularly asks for my input to make things better.