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Delegation of Authority: 4 Steps Leaders Should Follow

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As you climb the corporate ladder and move from individual contributor to management, your duties and responsibilities not only grow in number but in significance as well. Over time, you will likely find that you simply cannot do it all yourself, especially if you wish to maintain a healthy balance between your personal and professional commitments. At this point, the best thing you can do is delegate.

While the delegation of authority and tasks may be overwhelming at first, the good news is that delegation is a learnable leadership skill.

In the following article, we’ll review what delegation of authority means and the common reasons why leaders avoid it, as well as introduce you to a process that you can follow to build your confidence.

 

Are you struggling to decide what to delegate and whom to delegate to? If so,  this guide will help!

 

What is Delegation of Authority?

Delegation of authority is defined as the process of transferring authority and responsibility from a leader to an employee. Simply put, it is when a leader entrusts someone else to take on part of their workload in the way they see fit. This requires the leader to relinquish control, grant autonomy and authority to an individual, and set boundaries.

Unfortunately, some leaders struggle with the delegation of authority.Here are some common reasons for why that is:

  • They fear losing control 
  • They do not trust their employees to do it as well as they can
  • They genuinely like doing the work and aren’t ready to let it go 
  • They don’t have enough time to either decide what to delegate and to who or to provide the necessary training, coaching, and oversight 
  • They want the praise and recognition 
  • They want to prove themselves valuable and fear that if others do the job as well as they do, they may lose their job 
  • They don’t know how to choose what to delegate and to who

 

How To Delegate with Confidence

While it is understandable why some leaders find the delegation of authority and tasks difficult, it does not mean one should avoid doing so. If you do, you will find your effectiveness as a leader limited. To avoid this and begin delegating effectively, consider implementing the following 4-step process.

 

Step 1: Assignment

First and foremost, you’ll need to determine what task or responsibility you wish to delegate and to whom. The best things to delegate are ones that can be taught, align with an employee’s professional goals and interests, or that take up a lot of time and cannot be automated.

Then, you’ll want to select someone to delegate it to based on their track record of success, the level of trust you have in them, and their willingness to take accountability. At this point, you’ll also want to outline the timeline and boundaries and make plans to get the employee the resources or training they will need to meet your expectations.

 

Step 2: Transfer

Once you have outlined the specifics of the task or authority you are delegating, it is time to meet one-on-one with the person you have in mind. During this time together, be sure to explain the following:

  • What is it you need them to do? 
  • Why are you delegating this task or authority? 
  • Why have you chosen them? 
  • When does it need to be completed? 
  • How should it be completed? Is there a process they should follow?

 

Step 3: Acceptance

Now that you have explained what you wish to delegate to your employee, give them a chance to ask you questions. Seeking clarity through questions builds an understanding of what they will agree to, and you feel comfortable they’re clear on what you’re asking them to do.  It is also a good idea at this point to ask them to repeat back to you what you have discussed in their own words, so you can immediately clear up any misunderstandings. In addition, they may also need you to help them reprioritize their workload and manage the expectations of others.

 

Step 4: Accountability 

At this point, you need to step back and allow your employee to take accountability for what you have delegated to them as they see fit. However, you should also keep in touch with your employee and be aware of the progress they are making to ensure they are on track and quickly course correct them if needed. 

 

Conclusion

Delegation is so much more than just telling someone what to do. Not to mention, it does completely absolve you of responsibility. At the end of the day, as the leader, you remain responsible for what your employee does with the authority you give them and the results they produce, good or bad. Given this, it is of the utmost importance that you delegate effectively.

Fortunately, enrolling in a leadership training program can help you gain the confidence, skills, and tools needed to begin doing so. Remember, delegation is a learnable leadership skill, so long as you are willing to invest the time and energy into developing it.

The Guide to Delegation for Leaders