How Great Leaders Delegate

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Delegation is a key component of success.

In a fast changing and increasingly competitive world, being good enough no longer cuts it. Minimum expected standards are increasing. Which means organisations need a mix of high quality skills like never before.

The only way a leader can cover all these bases is through appropriate delegation.

Successful delegation doesn’t mean just asking someone else to do something. It’s a skill that requires tact, judgement and practice.

Here are some ways how great leaders delegate successfully.

They give autonomy

Delegation doesn’t mean giving someone else your donkey work.

We’ve all experienced situations where a boss or manager has asked us to do something, only then to consistently be looking over our shoulder or even worse – insisting that we get their “approval” before we actually do anything meaningful.

As highly cognitive beings, what motivates all of us – from interns to CEO’s – is a sense of purpose. Of value. Which means being valued and trusted by others to get the job done.

Sure, it’s understandable that getting approval on the $5 million dollar marketing strategy requires input from others. But that doesn’t mean wasting hours of unnecessary or unappreciated work just to go with the boss’ gut instinct.

Great leaders trust their team.

They allow others to step forward

There is a fine line between delegation and giving orders. Even the most tolerant person rarely likes to be told what to do without any input or choice.

The Head of Sales at a SaaS company I have been recently working with, is a great delegator.  Rather than giving orders, he regularly raises key problems that need addressing before meetings and asks who would be prepared to help. In order to impress, he often proactively has several people step forward to help. He delegates by creating healthy competition.

Great leaders understand that those who are true team players are usually the first one’s to volunteer in times of need. Rather than forcing tasks upon others, they allow those who are most keen to step forward.

They only ask others to do something they would do themselves

After the birth of our second child, the bath time routine became a bit hectic.

In order to make things a bit smoother, I thought it might be a good idea to ask my older son (who is three) to share his bath with his little sister. You know, two kids in the same bath at the same time equals less time, less mess and hopefully less sibling rivalry (wrong). Maybe I could even delegate his little sister’s nightly toy duck entertainment to him?

Naturally my son refused. Emphatically.

Then one day, as I was rushing to go out in the evening myself, I jumped in the bath myself with the baby. My son was intrigued. Seeing Daddy and baby together looked like fun. Twice the splashing. Lot’s of noise. Maybe sharing a bath and helping with the baby wasn’t such a bad idea.

Knowing another person is prepared to practice what they ask for, is a great way to build mutual trust.

A great leader never asks another to perform a task that they wouldn’t perform themselves. Unless the task requires specific technical knowledge, they realize leadership is based on respect of the overall team. Whether it is responding to a dissatisfied client, an awkward firing decision or even dealing with abuse – there are no double standards whatsoever.

Great leaders are prepared to practice what they preach.

Conclusion

The only way any leader can grow and scale is through the art of successful delegation.

Hiring managers can gain much from those people who understand how to empower and gain co-operation from others in the right way.

It’s the cornerstone to leadership.

How do you delegate?

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