Champion Leadership Tip #7 – The 4 Rules of Effective Delegation

Delegation is like flossing your teeth.

It’s something we are told we need to do regularly but instead we do it infrequently and not thorough enough. Thus, we get poor results from it and refrain from doing more frequently. It’s a downward cycle we need to turnaround.

Great leaders delegate for success!

The best way for leaders to grow into better leaders themselves is to invest in delegating to their direct reports, yet so many are challenged by it.

The challenge comes from fear. Fear of their direct reports not fulfilling the task as comprehensively at as high a level, fear of a lack of follow-through, fear of being seen as dumping grunt work downward, fear of giving too much responsibility to someone not ready for it, fear of having to invest too much time to train/coach someone when the leader could just do it themselves. Which excuse have you used?

Yet, if leaders want to grow their departments or their business overall the number one skill they have to master is delegation. Effective delegation can provide a multitude of results, such as:

  • Improved productivity for the leader
  • Greater opportunities for strategic thinking by the leader
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem of the direct reports
  • Improved motivation as the direct report begins working on hire level projects and decisions
  • Higher levels of trust between the leader and direct reports

There are only 4 Key Rules to Effective Delegation leaders need to keep in mind to do it successfully:

Delegation Rule #1
Its about delegation, not abdication – leaders will continue to have ultimate responsibility for the delegated activity getting done and must check-in regularly and possibly coach and mentor until direct report masters the required task. Depending on the level of the person being delegated to leaders will need to balance the accountability with giving too much respect and autonomy.

Delegation Rule #2
Specificity in instructions, directions, details and expectations a MUST – without all of the above leaders offer their direct reports nothing but fear and uncertainty in moving forward to learn the task and what is expected from them. This will guarantee a failed delegation experience, preventing a desire for further opportunities on both sides.

Delegation Rule #3
Its about a successful result, not a specific process – too many leaders are in love with their methodology and tactics. There are more ways than one to skin a cat. Allow the person being delegated to to do it their own way at first and they may surprise you with their ability. They may even have a better way. Either way, debrief after to decide the best way to do it next time, and if it really doesn’t matter let them do it their way.

Delegation Rule #4
Failure Is Just a Learning Opportunity – Both the leader and the direct report must be open to allowing failure. Growth comes through learning and learning comes through failure. Allow failure, use it as a teachable moment and build from there.

Have fun!