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Deliberate Delegation

Updated: May 12, 2022

Delegation is something that troubles many clients. There are so many stories that underpin a lack of delegation that it is difficult to develop this practice as a core skill for leadership. Many of the stories start with...

"I am too busy to have to supervise and pick up other people's mistakes."

"I don't want to give extra work to staff who are already buckling at the knees."

"It takes too long to explain."

"I worry that they will not do it how I want it doing."

These statements are full of assumptions, emotions and limited beliefs about ourselves and other people.

When we are too busy to supervise and pick up other people's mistakes, we have to wonder what we believe to be the purpose of leadership. Is the purpose to do it all or develop the people around us and build a strong line of capable, competent people who are eager for leadership?

When we worry about the burden of others, what are we assuming about their abilities, desires and motivations? Are we rescuing people who didn't ask to be rescued and reducing their ability to choose for themselves?

When we argue that delegation takes too long we are assuming that it is a waste of time? How does this mindset build dependency and relegate the development of others?

When we worry about the fact that the work will not be done how we want it doing, we run the risk of losing creativity in our organisations and developing a single story. This presents huge risks to organisation that thrive on pioneering ideas in their field. Assuming that our way is the best and only way to achieve a particular outcome is fraught with danger.


There are many ways of starting this journey, here are my top 5 tips

  1. Be Selective - Select the right person to work with in the beginning. Depending on your delegation story, loosening your grip might not be easy so it is important that you select a relationship where you feel you can both make progress. Also select the right task, see our attached resource for Do Delay Delegate and Delete and also Explore Options (see below)

  2. Create the Right Conditions - Trust is critical to delegation, it motivates us to be generous with others and support them without judgement and shame. Being vulnerable and letting this person know this is a skill you are developing in your leadership; it develops trust and a mutually supportive environment

  3. Clarity is Key - Communication can be a stumbling block, when we believe we have communicated clear, yet the progress is limited or not to an expected (necessary) standard. Checking in on your communication and the desired outcome is crucial. Do you both have the same understanding?

  4. Explore Options - Explore together where there are opportunities to delegate, what resources will be needed to support this development and how you will build in time to discuss and monitor progress?

  5. Time - In the beginning, it is true, there will be a need to invest some additional time, however this will be paid back when you have developed a member of staff to the point that they are able to distil their learning and begin to model delegation to others.

Just like listening, we very often over estimate our delegation skills. I invite you to take time to reflect and explore how you might take this opportunity to dig deep on your delegation development.

Download our free Do, Delegate, Delay and Delete PDF

Do Delegate Ditch Delete
Download PDF • 215KB

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