5 Things Leaders Should NOT Delegate to An Assistant

Delegating is tricky for many business owners, and it’s often difficult for many leaders to know what they alone should be responsible for and what they should pass on to an assistant.

John C. Maxwell is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more than 24-million books about leadership topics in fifty languages. Often called America’s #1 leadership authority, Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is a valuable resource for leaders to understand what they must develop within themselves, and what they can safely delegate to an assistant.

Here are 5 key points to consider about leadership and what you should and shouldn’t delegate:


1. Employee Hiring & Development


Maxwell says, “A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him.” The success of the business depends not just on the strength of the leadership, but on the strength of every team member, so each one must be chosen carefully.

Some business owners or managers rely heavily on recruiters, human resources agencies, or search consultants to find talent and fill open positions. However, interviewing and hiring team members is one of the most important things a boss or manager must do in order to be successful. In fact, a manager should also speak with referral sources to verify things a candidate said, or to get valuable information that would help him or her better lead should the candidate be hired.

There are, of course, tasks involved with the hiring process that can be delegated, such as:

  • Posting job openings
  • Initial screening of candidates for essential desired qualities
  • Scheduling interviews
  • Running background checks


Once a position is filled, regardless of whether it’s a senior executive or an entry-level employee, the owner or manager needs to have a hands-on role in onboarding and training a new employee. Likewise, managers should not pass off correction, coaching, or discipline to another employee, or even leave it solely to a human resources manager.

A boss or manager should also handle performance reviews and salary raises or bonuses. Positive recognition needs to be sincere and personal to be effective, and delegating it to an assistant defeats that purpose.

Maxwell says, “You develop credibility with people when you connect with them and show that you genuinely care and want to help them.” When a boss builds connection with employees, the entire team is much more likely to buy into the big-picture vision that he or she has for the business, which brings us to the next task that should never be delegated:


2. Casting Vision For The Company


Vision is a key component of leadership, so if a boss or manager attempts to delegate the vision-crafting process to a consultant, committee, or team member, they may be missing the point of leadership. While it’s smart to involve key team members or consultants in creating or refining a vision, it’s up to the leader to set the stage for the larger vision and ultimately give final approval.

Beyond vision-casting, leaders are responsible for determining what it will take to fulfill the vision, both in the short and the long term. Maxwell says, “Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.” Whether it’s expanding the business, offering a new service or developing a new product, or overhauling operations, these big-picture matters should be decided on by the leader of the organization.

That said, in order to chart the course a boss or manager can delegate certain supportive tasks to an assistant so that he or she has all the information needed to make a plan for the vision, such as:

  • Research the demand for possible new service or product
  • Collate and present raw data in a more organized way for easier assessment
  • Record and transcribe a leader’s meetings or brainstorming sessions to reference for ideas, tasks, and plans


3. Building Relationships With Fellow Business Leaders


Maxwell’s Law of the Inner Circle states that “to increase your capacity and maximize your potential as a leader, your first step is always to become the best leader you can. The next is to surround yourself with the best leaders you can find.”

Building relationships with fellow business leaders is one of the strongest skills related to leadership effectiveness. By getting to know other business owners, both within and outside of your industry, you are opening yourself up to learning about resources or best practices that you weren’t aware of but that can really give your business an edge.

In addition, by directly spreading the word about the products or services you provide, you’re casting a wider net for potential new business. For example, if an owner of a marketing agency builds a relationship with someone who owns a bookkeeping firm, the potential for new business extends way beyond these two business owners.

Even if the bookkeeping business owner doesn’t need to hire a marketing agency, he or she will know who to recommend when a client says something along the lines of, “My business isn’t growing as fast as it should. I think I need to have someone look at my marketing plan.” Vice versa, the marketing agency owner knows just who to recommend if a client mentions that they need help keeping track of financials.

To support building relationships with other business owners, a leader could delegate an assistant to:

  • Research networking groups and opportunities
  • Create a contact database
  • Schedule lunches and meetings
  • Research a referral reward system

The last 2 tasks that leaders should not delegate to an assistant can be summarized quickly:

4. Setting The Example For The Team


Maxwell’s Law of the Picture says that “people do what people see,” and, “when the leaders show the way with the right actions, their followers copy them and succeed.” The success of any business rises and falls on the example that leadership sets. Integrity begets integrity, and for it to infiltrate every level of a business it must start strongly at the top.

Leaders can, however, task an assistant with supportive tasks, such as:

  • Organizing an employee guidebook of values and standard operating procedures
  • Sending internal email reminders about policies and guidance resources
  • Promoting mission statements or value standards


5. Bookkeeping & Tax


Lastly, managing the business’s bookkeeping and taxes should not be left to an assistant, nor should the boss or manager be tasked with it. In order to focus on the four big picture tasks we’ve covered above, the leader needs to spend less time in the weeds, and this includes the day-to-day recording and reconciling of finances.

First, there’s much less chance of errors when a bookkeeper or accountant (who has the necessary training and aptitude) is managing the books. Second, outsourcing bookkeeping saves money.

For example, let’s say your time spent working with clients or on getting new ones is worth $100/hour. If you managed the bookkeeping yourself, it might take you 3 hours ($300) once or twice a week, while a professional bookkeeper might be able to do the same work in 1 hour.

Even if his or her fee is also $100/hour, you’ve saved $200 and have those 3 hours free do tasks that are more profitable and unique to your position. The returns quickly add up. (See What’s The Cost Of Doing Your Bookkeeping In House?)


Key Takeaway


Delegating is a dance, and there are some moves you should make and others you shouldn’t. Big picture tasks like finding and managing employees, setting the vision, building relationships, and setting an example for the staff keep your plate full enough.

Outsourcing your bookkeeping and accounting gives you the confidence of knowing that your books are being done right, freeing you up to focus on those big picture tasks that will fuel the growth of your business.

At Two Roads, we have the privilege of managing the books  for hundreds of small businesses who are leaders in their industry. We’d love to talk with you about your vision for your business and how we can help you achieve that. Learn more about us at tworoadsco.com, call us at (865) 212-0063, or get a price.


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