If you’re struggling with delegation as the owner of your clinic business, there’s a good bet that part of the problem is in your leadership style.
Let’s be clear:
There isn’t a right or wrong leadership style. But as you’re going to see in a bit, there are certain leadership styles that encourage and nurture delegation and produce its benefits, and others that do not.
What are the benefits of delegation?
You’ll be less stressed, because you’ll be freed from tasks you don’t want or need to be doing. More will get done in less time, meaning your business will grow faster. You’ll empower your staff, giving them a sense of ownership in their work, and making them feel more valued. You’ll be able to implement more long term visions and ideas – things that result in higher revenue.
Yes, delegation is hard, and there are at least five reasons why.
But if you want your clinic ownership experience to be more enjoyable and rewarding, and less stressful, you’ve got to figure out how to do it well.
Key Barriers to Delegation
Two of the biggest barriers to delegation are perfectionism and control. As you probably know, these are intertwined.
The desire for perfectionism leads to the assumption that if you don’t do it yourself, it won’t get done right. So, you retain control of the task, and when you don’t achieve perfect outcomes, you either blame yourself, blame someone else, or just keep working at it.
But the downside to this is that you are wasting your time on tasks that others could also do, and in some cases, do better.
Just like Yoda says to Luke Skywalker, you must “unlearn what you have learned.”
You’ve been conditioned by school and by life to always aim for the best possible outcome. Get the degree. The highest grades. Ace the test. Achieve the best possible results. Five star reviews.
The truth, however, especially in clinic ownership, is that 80% is usually good enough. This was one of the insights revealed in a recent roundtable discussion at our most recent Clinic Boss Workshop, which you can watch instantly by clicking here.
Besides perfectionism, another thing you may need to unlearn is your leadership style, because leadership styles are intertwined with delegation. Some help you do it better. Others make it harder.
PS. Check out this swipe post to learn how to delegate to your team effectively:
Understanding Your Leadership Style
How do you ‘unlearn’ a less effective leadership style? You do it in three steps:
- Reflect on why you wanted to own your own clinic
- Determine your primary leadership style
- Learn to adjust your leadership style and more effectively shape your clinic’s culture
Let’s look at each of these briefly, and then we’ll look at how to get better at delegation by developing your leadership style.
Why You Started Your Clinic
The reasons you started your clinic speak to your motivations. What drives your actions and perceptions about your chiropractic, dental, massage, or physiotherapy clinic business? Motivations affect your leadership style.
For example, we surveyed all the live attendees in the our recent clinic owner workshop about this topic.
They were asked why they started their clinics. Answers broke down pretty evenly among five choices.
Some started their own clinics to make more money. Others wanted more time and freedom in their lives. Some were out to change the world and make it a better place. Some didn’t know. And some believed they could run a clinic better than whoever they used to be working for as a clinician.
Consider each of these with respect to leadership styles.
An owner driven to make more money will lead with a focus on profits – growing revenues and cutting expenses. An owner driven by freedom will look for ways to liberate himself or herself from mundane aspects of the business. This type of owner is probably more naturally drawn to delegation.
An owner who believes they can run a clinic best is the one most likely to be driven by control and perfectionism, and will have the hardest time delegating tasks, even when it’s in their interests to do so.
People sometimes think it's easy to be a clinic owner, until they actually become one. Do you agree?
Your Leadership Style
There are lots of leadership styles. But here are six that were discussed in the webinar:
Much could be said about these. Each has situations where that style is most effective. Each has strengths and weaknesses. In the webinar discussion, the panel talked about these for quite a while.
But in terms of delegation, the commanding, pacesetting, and democratic styles of leadership are less likely to produce effective delegation.
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Because commanding is, more or less, leadership from authority – you do what I say. As long as the directions are good and perceived to be reasonable and necessary by your team, there are times when this leadership style works well. Same with pacesetting, which essentially says to follow the lead of the clinic owner – work as hard as they do, at the same pace.
The democratic leadership style tries to get everyone involved in the decision-making process. It always sounds great, because then we get to ‘vote.’ Or so we think. But this approach often bogs down in endless discussion and can actually hinder things from getting decided and achieved. Again – this has its place, but it’s harder to infuse it with delegation.
The affiliative leadership style places great value on the people and their emotional needs. It has great value in certain situations, and can be used to delegate, but it can also hinder progress if overused.
The best two leadership styles for delegation are visionary and coaching.
The visionary leader presents the plan, the goal, the aim, and then empowers the team to go make it happen. The coach assigns the tasks to team members, and then walks alongside as the team member tries to make it work.
Again – a lot more could be said about all these leadership styles.
Check out this quick video on why you should let your leaders fail:
Adjust Your Style to Shape Your Clinic’s Culture
Shaping your clinic’s culture is a never-ending quest for improvement. Here are 11 easy ways to improve yours.
But adjusting your leadership style depending on the situation is a long term way to improve your culture. Once you realize what your primary leadership style is, you can adjust or enhance it when delegation is the goal of the moment.
Here’s how to do it:
5 Ways to Improve Your Leadership Style for Delegation
1.) Let Go of Fear
A common fear of clinic owners is that if they delegate, their employees will realize they don’t know what they’re doing.
Imagine trying to delegate a task that you haven’t figured out how to do. That is, in fact, why you want to delegate it – because you don’t have time to figure it out but you know it needs to get done.
What might your employee think when you assign it to them and they ask how, and you don’t know???
The reality is, this isn’t something to worry about. You’re not perfect, and trying to project the image of perfection doesn’t endear you to your team. It’s okay if you don’t know something. In fact, they will see it as an act of respect, honor, and empowerment than you trust them enough to take this on.
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2.) Let Go of Control
Will the person you delegate to mess up? Maybe.
But if you did it yourself, you might mess up too. Some tasks are difficult, and you fail at first. Some things develop in stages. That’s okay. Delegation doesn’t necessarily mean you toss tasks at people, wash your hands of it, and go off to do other ‘owner stuff.’
But it does mean you stop doing everything yourself. And it also means you stop micromanaging.
3.) Use 1:1 Meetings
Delegation involves ongoing monitoring and development. You can see why this aligns well with a coaching leadership style. You’ve given someone else a task, but you keep meeting with them once a week, or once a day, or however often makes sense for the task.
You check in, assess their progress, suggest ideas, get feedback reports, answer questions, and send them off again.
And don’t be scared off by the word ‘meeting.’ For some tasks, these meetings can take less than five minutes. You could think of it as a ‘check-in moment’ rather than a meeting.
One-on-one meetings and follow-up are critical components of effective delegation.
4.) Empower Them Through Delegation
One potential risk of using the coaching leadership style is that it can morph into micromanagement. You really do want to empower your team to own these tasks. This is one way the visionary leadership style excels with regard to delegation.
The vision is cast, but the visionary leader really doesn’t want to do it. In fact, visionary leaders tend to be terrible at implementation. They are great at ideas, but awful at turning them into reality. That’s why a leadership team filled with visionaries often fails to produce. You need visionaries, and you need managers and implementers who go get it done.
So present the vision, empower the employee or team with time, resources, and autonomy, and let them at it. Give them freedom to mess up a few times, if necessary.
5.) Let Them Develop the Solution, not You
Planning to delegate kind of misses the point. When you delegate, you don’t outline the entire plan and procedure and then give it to someone to go do it. That’s not delegating. That’s commanding – here, go do this. Again – there’s a place for that, but it’s not delegation, because you still did most of the work.
Delegation means you need something done, but you empower the person to go figure it out.
Now, the exception to this is if the task is already in existence and functioning, and you just want to pass it off. In that case, there may not be a new solution needed. But even then, you can make it clear that if they can come up with a better way to do it, by all means do so.
And in your 1:1 check-ins, you will know if that’s happening and can advise and re-direct, if necessary.
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Want to Learn Instantly How Top Clinic Owners Delegate to Their Staff?
The truth is, there's a lot more to delegation than we could ever cover in this one blog post. But the good news is, I interviewed Karen Craven, a top clinic owner, and the recording is now available for those that couldn't make it live.
You can watch the 1-hour workshop instantly by clicking here.
1. Why is delegation so hard for business owners?
Delegation is often hard for business owners because most owners are used to doing everything themselves. It’s how they grew their business. They know how they want it done, and they struggle to trust employees to do it right. The sense of perfectionism combined with a perceived need to control often prevent owners from effectively delegating.
2. What leadership styles facilitate delegation?
Of the six leadership styles, the two that best facilitate delegation are coaching and visionary. A coaching leader looks for ways to get the team involved, and walk alongside them as they develop or implement the plan. They ask questions, redirect, advise, and keep them on track, but they avoid micromanaging. A visionary leader describes the goal and the desired outcomes, and empowers the team to go make it happen.
3. Why is delegation important for clinic businesses?
There is just too much to do as the owner of a clinic. If you keep trying to own all the key tasks, you will put a cap on how much your clinic can grow. It will never grow beyond your capacity to manage all these tasks. By delegating, you free up your time to work on revenue-generating tasks and other growth elements, and make it possible to grow the business.
Rick has built three 10 million dollar healthcare businesses over the past 15 years including a network of 127 clinics with over 1400 employees. He is one of the most sought-after mentors for clinic owners in Canada and USA where he helps owners double, triple, and even quadruple their profits by optimizing their clinic operations using his proven systems and leadership strategies. Plus, he has spent over millions in google and facebook ads during his career.
You can follow him on Instagram