The Art of Delegation for Leaders


Delegating sounds great, right? You have a busy schedule and more on your to-do list than you can reasonably do. The only way to get it all done is if you can start to delegate some of your tasks to other people. It sounds easy. But it’s a common struggle for many leaders.

The common issues with delegating

While everyone’s situation can be a little different, there are some common issues that leaders face when starting to delegate:

Not trusting employees

When you’re the one responsible for the overall success or failure of the job, it can be challenging to trust someone else to be in the details of it. You may feel that your employees aren’t going to do it the same way you would. Or you may be worried that they’re not capable of handling the additional task.

Not giving up power

To properly delegate a task, you need to give up some of the control around that task too. If you delegate the task but not the control, your employee is going to need to keep coming to you with questions. That means it’s not really taking much off your plate. You may feel like you’re delegating, but it’s not providing you the relief that it should.

Fear of someone doing better than you

It’s also common for leaders to struggle with the idea that someone may be able to do the job better than they can. As the leader, you may want to feel like you’re the one who can do the job the best. While this can be common for leaders to struggle with, it’s an obstacle that needs to be overcome.

The above are a few examples of some of the challenges that you may face while starting to delegate. Learning how to overcome these challenges will make your job easier and help free your time up to spend on other areas that need your attention.

Tips to help you delegate

Here are a few tips to help you learn to delegate better.

Focus on the details

If you delegate a task and it is not done to your expectations the first thing you need to do is look at what you did wrong when delegating. It’s normal for leaders to immediate believe that it was an error by the employee, but often the error is in a lack of communication in the delegation process.

Delegating tasks is a learning process. Each time your employee completes a delegated task, take a minute to review the process. Ask them what could have been better in the process and make them feel comfortable providing you with honest feedback. Chances are you aren’t being as specific as you think you’re being. Continue to revamp the directions you give until you’re clearly communicating what needs to be done.

Delegate authority along with the task

When you delegate a task, you need to delegate all of the authority that an employee needs to complete the tas properly. They need to have decision making power and the authority to make it happen. If you try to give one without the other, your employee is going to constantly be facing an obstacle outside of their control.

Know your employees

If you’re a parent of more than one child, you know that every child is different. They learn differently. They think differently. And they function best under different circumstances. If you want to help your children succeed, you need to learn about them. Then you know what you’re working with. The same is true for your employees.

The better understanding you have of your employees, the easier it will be as you begin to transition tasks from your plate to theirs.

Start small

When you first start delegating it’s best to start small. This helps you learn and pivot along the way so you can continue to learn from each experience. If you try to delegate a lot all at once, it’s going to be overwhelming for you, even if the other person can handle it. Start with something simple and once you’re comfortable with that, delegate something else.

Don’t give up

If you have a bad experience while delegating a task, don’t give up and think it can’t be done. It’s important to continue adapting as you go. If you have a bad experience, look to see what went wrong. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did I give clear directions?
  • Did I make myself available for questions?
  • Was the proper amount of authority delegated along with the task?
  • Did the employee have access to the necessary resources?
  • Did I delegate this task to the right person?
  • What could I have done differently to make this project more successful?

You can only do so much on your own. If you continue to try to do it all on your own, you’re limiting the amount of growth that you’re able to experience. Take the time to learn how to delegate and then take action in getting started.

“The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.” – Eli Broad

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