As many seasoned leaders know, delegation is not just about distributing tasks. It’s an art that requires a strategic mindset, an understanding of people, and the foresight to prioritize long-term organizational goals. Recognizing its importance is one thing, but successfully implementing it is another.
Well-known financial guru and author Dave Ramsey often expresses the importance of “leadership creating ownership.” Leaders can create a sense of ownership among their teams by entrusting them with responsibilities. One of the most effective methods for developing leaders and creating ownership is to delegate responsibility to your team.
The concept is not novel or controversial, but the struggle often comes from the leader’s reluctance to let go. Many leaders are uncomfortable trusting their team members to deliver on the tasks or responsibilities usually reserved for the leader. Some leaders believe that doing it themselves is faster. Others want to retain control and believe tasks will be completed correctly only if done personally, while still, others are concerned with the time required to train someone else to deliver on par with the leader. But the true culprit is the leader who does not trust the team, which ultimately means that the leader has not prepared the team for greater responsibility.
John C. Maxwell, in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, discusses the “Law of Empowerment.” He writes that for leaders to reach their full potential, they must be willing to empower others. That leaders who cannot let go will stifle their growth and the growth of those around them. By holding onto tasks they should delegate, leaders deprive their team members of growth opportunities and themselves of the time to focus on higher-level strategic initiatives. Moreover, Maxwell suggests that it is through delegation that leaders can identify future leaders. As team members are given more responsibilities, their potential, dedication, and decision-making skills become evident.
It is the leader’s responsibility to identify those who show the willingness to accept greater responsibility. Leaders must also be attentive to match tasks with team members’ strengths, skills, and interests. Research shows that when people work on what they are passionate about and skilled at, they are more innovative, efficient, and motivated. Therefore, delegation not only eases the leader’s workload but also enhances the team’s productivity and job satisfaction.
Once identified, the leader must intentionally prepare the team member for success by using a deliberate crawl-walk-run approach. This method enables the leader to build trust in the team member by delegating tasks of increasing importance. During each cycle, the leader carefully defines the delegated task clearly and completely, providing clarity on the task’s importance, explaining how it contributes to the organization’s mission, and articulating the success criteria.
Both Ramsey and Maxwell mention in their writings a systematic process for building a team member’s competency while simultaneously building the senior leader’s trust in that team member. They recommend a four-step sequence:
Delegation, when done correctly, offers a plethora of benefits. It allows for:
• Higher Efficiency: Distributing tasks can lead to quicker task completion.
• Team Growth: By entrusting responsibilities, team members develop new skills and gain confidence.
• Focus on Core Responsibilities: It enables leaders to concentrate on their core duties and high-priority projects.
• Increased Trust: It cultivates a culture of trust within the team, fueling cohesion and success.
Delegation is an art. Many leaders face challenges and fears in entrusting responsibilities to others. But remember, the leader’s role is to guide, inspire, and make strategic decisions. This becomes difficult if the leader is buried by tasks they could instead delegate to others. So, develop trust in the team, delegate wisely, and welcome the success it brings.
If you are struggling with team development or cohesion, Helmwise can help. Visit Helmwise.com to learn more.