I recently coached a leader to be a better delegator. I challenged him to remove himself from various decisions and other tasks with the goal to (1) allow him to do more work leading the company and (2) create opportunities for his team and team members to grow.
And it worked! (Of course)
He started delegating more over many months. However, there came a time where he was delegating decisions and tasks that he would rather not do himself. For example, he was tasking one team to work better with a difficult employee - whom he wasn't addressing. In another situation, he wasn't holding another team to a process that they all had agreed upon.
The leader challenged me back, "But Mike, you told me to delegate."
So it didn't work. (Of course)
While delegating can be an efficient solution, delegating the dirty work of the job can be detrimental to the leader and the team.
By asking employees to do the dirty work, the leader runs the risk of damaging morale and loyalty. The team may feel that their leader is not willing to take responsibility for difficult decisions. The team may feel unsupported and undervalued. Which ultimately creates more dirty work when the leader has to fix damaged productivity and engagement.
Leaders are expected to lead by example and take ownership of their decisions, even the dirty ones. If they ask their employees to do tasks they are not willing to do themselves, they risk losing the respect of their team and damaging their own reputation as a leader.
While handing off the dirty work may seem like an easy solution, it can ultimately damage morale and credibility. Next time you're faced with dirty work, take ownership of the difficult decisions and communicate them in a respectful and professional manner.
Of course you will.