Mastering the Art of Delegation
Updated: Dec 2, 2021
Grit. Unshakeable. Strength. These words thrive in the titles of leadership development books and create ideals of how effective leaders should think and act. Images of perseverance and bravery may come to mind, depending on what your Netflix binge-show-of-choice is.
No doubt these are all vital leadership qualities; however, delegation remains an often-missed skill and ability in how we view the role of a leader. Those who have mastered the art of delegation know they can't, and shouldn't, do everything themselves. They're able to resource others quietly and artfully.
Those who struggle with delegation, on the other hand, do so loudly and painfully. They believe that as a leader, they must be involved in all details of the business and that is why they are there. In their minds, that is the burden of being a leader.
Delegation is a critical skill for all leaders to master because it:
Provides us time to tackle the important tasks of our role or business.
Allows us to create capacity for ourselves when we are overwhelmed or take on too much.
Creates development opportunities for our employees, which can lead to increased confidence for them.
All these items can ultimately increase value in the business. So how can you create a path to master this art of delegation?
Conduct an assessment of your activities. Whether you've taken on a new role, or just taken on too much over time, start by listing out what you find yourself engaged in during a given week. Once you've listed out all of your duties, move them to the following categories:
Delegate. Things that can be done by others that you are currently responsible for.
Dedicated. Things only you can do for one reason or another.
Disposable. Places and things that take up time and can be eliminated; they don’t bring value.
Think further out. Now that you know what you're doing today, write down your "important but not urgent" activities. These are your desirable activities; tasks that need to be done, but either have not been assigned, or they have been assigned and should be delegated to another. Completing these activities would take you to a higher performance level and enhance organizational growth.
Choose people who can get on board. Creating a list is great and all, but if you can't hand off activities in the delegate category, they will never leave that piece of paper. To do this, you must ensure you're hiring the right people. They must have the right motivation, skills, and needs to take on these tasks.
Understand your team's development goals or strengths. Continue that same focus during the employee's development and career path. Understanding what they what to do and learn allows you to create the best match your delegation opportunities.
Create a coaching mindset. Another reason we avoid delegation is because teaching others takes time. But consider this: Would you rather spend three hours a week for another year on the same task or spend three hours next week teaching a team member a process? The first option creates stagnation. The second option creates more time to spend on one of your desirable activities. It’s an easy choice.
Give freedom. You can't delegate and then micromanage, but you can't necessarily walk away. Create opportunities to observe and support. By giving your employees freedom to lead, you allow them the freedom to make mistakes—and perhaps even fail—so they can learn and grow from experience.
Ask for accountability. Ensure you're creating an environment for your team to hold you accountable when you're not delegating. To do this, ask frequently for specific feedback. For example, "Am I getting you involved in the right areas and in the right way?"
Don't miss your opportunity to master the art of delegation. It can help you find time to focus on activities that matter and create value, while giving your employees an opportunity to develop and grow.