Having trouble delegating? Might be an Iceberg ahead!

Iceberg Beliefs, those deep-seated rules that we’ve all learned and internalized, can beat us up in surprising and unexpected ways. Based on some recent work we’ve done with leadership teams, we’ve identified icebergs that interfere with important leadership skills like delegating, mentoring, and completing hard goals. In this tip, we’ll take a closer look at icebergs and ability to delegate.

Delegation is a critical leadership skill, especially in fast growing organizations. Leaders who fail to push tasks and responsibilities down to their people are at risk for burnout. Worse, failure to delegate slows the development and readiness of their reports to assume leadership roles created by the expanding business.

So, what do Icebergs that impede delegation sound like? Here are a couple of examples:

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.”


 “Asking for help is a sign of weakness.”

Do these resonate with you? If so, and if you’re struggling with letting go of things that your people should be able to take off your plate, chances are that these icebergs, or beliefs that sound similar, are holding you back. Here’s a 3-step approach to help you melt your iceberg and get back on the path to resilient leadership:

  • Step 1. – Shine a light on it – The first step in navigating your Iceberg is calling it out. In a couple of sentences, try to capture your Iceberg verbatim, then describe the challenge it’s causing, and how it’s affecting both your mood and your performance.

  • Step 2. – Reframe it – Come up with different way to think about it. This might be a way to make the iceberg sound like less of a “must” or “should”. Or you might come up with a simple mantra or other workaround phrase.

  • Step 3. – Affirm it – It’ll takes conscious application of your new thinking to melt an iceberg that took years to develop. If your new thinking leads to a better outcome, take a moment to acknowledge your growth, and to bask in the glow of your success.

If this tip is helpful, check back soon. We'll be talking about some other leadership challenges and how to navigate the icebergs that are getting in the way.

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