The How-To’s of Delegating

sage098126Delegation is an age old leadership challenge. Intuitively we know we can’t do it all but when the rubber meets the road we step in and make sure that high visibility project gets done even if it means stepping in and doing it yourself. In my last blog, Do or Die! I dispelled the key myths my clients share with me for not delegating. There’s power in delegating and it’s one of the key leadership skills that leads to success. Your ability to delegate serves several purposes:

Shifts your focus to high priority items. As you take lower priority tasks off your plate you are able to turn your focus to more strategic responsibilities. Often times we deal with the here and now and don’t allow time for the longer range, more strategic thinking and planning. This is your chance to go beyond the day-to-day tactical tasks and focus on the areas where you can truly add value.
Enables you to “let go”. You are not the only person who can accomplish a tough task, even if it sometimes feels that way. You have to take calculated risks that enable others to take on greater responsibility. It can feel uncomfortable and like losing control but you can’t hold onto things that would be better suited for other people to take on. Delegation relies on your ability as a leader to let go. This oftentimes includes facing the feelings associated with losing control and not being in charge of the outcome. Ensure you set your team up for success and communicate your expectations on how you want to remain in the loop, even if it’s simply a regular project update.
Teaches others. When you delegate your direct reports are taking on tasks that ultimately you were performing. This helps prepare them for the next level. This also sends a message you have faith in them and they in turn appreciate stepping up to the challenge.
Helps you grow as a leader. As an individual contributor and even as a first-line manager you were being judged by the work you did. As you take on additional responsibility and larger teams, you are being judged on how you motivate and inspire others to do the work. This is a pivotal point in leadership. Those that learn the importance of delegating will take their leadership to the next level.

I use the Sage Alliance Delegation worksheet to help my clients delegate their projects more effectively. The following steps will help you fill out the worksheet.

The first column are things you Must Do, meaning no one else can do these things. Examples include one-on-ones, performance reviews, skip level meetings and meetings that require your presence such as your manager’s staff meeting. These are responsibilities you simply can’t delegate.

The next column represents the things you can Delegate Now. Ask yourself these questions:

• Do I really need to attend that meeting or conference call?
• Do I have to be the one to write that report or create that presentation deck?
• What are the projects that others can run with while I oversee the bigger picture?

While it may take some time for your direct reports to get up to speed, you will feel like a burden has been lifted which frees up time for you to focus on the things that really matter to your more strategic role.

Now we come to the third column and the hardest to let go. These are the projects and responsibilities that fall into Delegate Later. You may feel like you will lose touch or lose control if you delegate these. Many times we know instinctively we don’t have to do this task but there are reasons surrounding why you can’t delegate this now. Identify the specific issue that stands in the way of you delegating this now. Maybe you are short staffed and there is no one to delegate to or it could be a matter of training or something else entirely. Regardless of the issue it’s important to create a plan to delegate this sooner rather than later. Develop a 30–60–90 plan to address the issue and get these projects off your plate. Your success depends on it and your team will be happier with the new challenges and opportunities your delegation creates.

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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  1. Lilian Arreguin says:

    I love this concept and I will adapt this to my daily work life…

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