Leading By Delegating

How many times have you ended your day thinking,

“I need to clone myself. I will never to able to create a life that includes everything that matters to me – doing excellent work, having time to play, nurturing great relationships, eating well, and exercising – unless I somehow figure out how to add more hours to my day.”

Whether considering your work or your personal life, delegating is the answer. Start from the premise that your job is doing only those things that others cannot do. Delegate everything else.

I recognize how radical a thought this is, and that strictly following it will vary in each of the roles that you have in life, but embracing the premise is essential. You can create a To-Do list that includes ALL of the things that truly matter to you and have enough time to actually get them done and do them well.

But delegation is NOT shoving something off your plate onto someone else’s and breathing a sigh of relief.

Delegation is a process of granting authority to someone else for a specific task or project for which you are ultimately responsible, and holding them accountable for good work.

Leadership skill: Delegate effectively.

Step 1 – Choose to whom you will delegate by considering:

  • Who has the time or whose priorities could be adjusted to make the time?
  • Who has an interest in the task, or is closest to the issue?
  • Who is either capable of doing it or learning to do it?
  • Who has the most to gain, in either skills or experience?

Step 2 – Clearly define the desired outcome and which of five progressive levels of authority you are granting:

- Do exactly what I’ve told you; let me know when it’s done.

- Research how to accomplish the outcome and report what you find.

- Research how to accomplish the outcome, report what you find, and make recommendations.

- Research how to accomplish the outcome, go ahead and do it, and let me know when it’s done.

- Research how to accomplish the outcome, and go ahead and do it.

Step 3 – Create buy-in.

Be clear about how this task fits into the big picture of their personal goals or values, and the goals of the group. That reminds them how important they are.

Tell them why they were chosen and what specific skills they bring to the task, and involve them in designing the process to the outcome. That reminds them how valuable they are.

Step 4 – Together design a schedule of follow-up.

Establish and agree upon the structure of checkpoints before beginning the task. The frequency of check-ins will be based on the trust you have in their abilities and motivation. This realistic schedule of dates needs to include training time, progressive mini-outcomes, and completion.

Avoid micromanaging. Follow-up creates accountability and success. Micromanaging, on the other hand, looks at process, not outcomes, and expects compliance in how things are done. Everyone hates it because it strips them of their individuality.

How are you doing, 0 – 10, delegating effectively?

- Mary Beth King

This article was originally featured in Blue City Monthly

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