Each week, I respond to a question submitted by a leader from somewhere in the world. Some of the questions are unique and others are more universal. Today, a question I believe many leaders have struggled with: How do I delegate without guilt?
What is delegation? That seems like a great place to start. Is it dumping work on someone you manage? Is it strategically getting work assigned to the best possible person? Is it a convenient way to avoid unpleasant tasks? Is it a way to help people grow? The truth is, it can be any of the above.
Before I go any further, you’ll have to decide what YOU believe about delegation. However, I’m going to assume you are a servant leader – or are striving to become one. Therefore, I would suggest you can minimize or even eliminate any angst you may have about delegating if you clarify your point-of-view. Here’s how I try to think about delegation.
Delegation helps people grow – if done properly. Delegation should never be a dump and run proposition. The outcomes need to be clearly stated, the boundaries established and milestones identified. Most of what you and I know about leadership we learned when someone delegated real responsibility and we grew in the process.
Next, if done thoughtfully, delegation can leverage a person’s talents, strengths and passions. There are clearly things you and I don’t like to do. However, there are men and women who LOVE to do those same activities. I know it seems strange on the surface, but it’s true. So, when I find myself faced with something I really don’t enjoy doing, one of my questions is, “Who would love to do this?” Thankfully, we’re not all the same.
Another reason we should be able to delegate guilt-free is the space it creates for us to do what we’re uniquely qualified, gifted and compensated to do. Assuming we use our time wisely, appropriate delegation multiplies our time and our effectiveness. We will have more time to do what we are supposed to do.
Finally, assigning work to the most appropriate individual or team is a stewardship issue. Generally, you are paid more than the people you lead. Therefore, if work can be done by someone at a lower hourly wage, that is good stewardship.
I’ll close by saying effective delegation is a HUGE hurdle for many leaders. More than that, failure to delegate well will derail your career. You must figure out how to delegate before you can move to the highest form of getting work done - when you see your role not as a delegator but a developer. If you’re interested in learning more, I wrote about this transition in a post entitled, Is Your Leadership Career Stalled?
For now, clarify what you believe about delegation and do it well. It is an essential steppingstone to becoming a great leader![GLS_Shield]