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The Argument for Delegation: Why Great Leaders are Master Delegators

Behind every great leader is a great team.

That may not be a common saying, but it ought to be.

Even the most capable, intelligent and experienced leaders cannot accomplish much on their own; from the person who makes the coffee all the way up to the boss’s right hand man, everyone helps get the job done.Leader

When leaders fail, it’s often because of a failure to properly delegate and manage their team.  The best leaders know how and when to tap the skills and strengths of those around them.  These are the golden rules when it comes to doing it well.

#1:  Plan, Plan, Plan

Master delegators take a big job and break it up into reasonably-sized pieces, which then get distributed amongst the team.  When some people hear the word, “Delegation,” they think it’s just a fancy way to say that you’re passing off your work to someone else when you can’t handle it.  Not so.

Skilled leaders don’t just delegate as needed; it’s part of the plan from the start.  As soon as a large task comes down the pipeline, they start their attack plan.  The first step is breaking it down and creating realistic deadlines for each piece.  This big picture overview is crucial before diving down into details.

#2:  Know Your People

When delegating, you don’t just grab the arm of the person closest to you and shove a file in their face.  No, this is panic-driven delegating and it’s not recommended.  Good leaders know how to best utilize all of their employees.  This starts with really knowing them well – both their personalities and their professional skills.

Consider carefully how your team works with deadlines, the types of tasks they like and are best at, and whether they work best individually or in groups.  This is the benefit of a diverse team:  each person plays to their strengths, which results in the best possible outcome for everyone.

#3:  Seek Support

Pretending to be strong all the time is actually a weakness.  When leaders take on more than they’re capable of, failure is inevitable.  Certainly, it’s great to push and challenge yourself to do more, but know your limits.  And, as soon as you discover that your eyes may have been bigger than your proverbial stomach, get down to delegating. Team

Putting on a façade of complete control, when it’s all crumbling beneath you, is a surefire way to communicate ineptitude.  Plus, it tends to become a harmful cycle.  The longer you go without admitting that you need help, the more scared you feel about reaching out or delegating.  Eventually, however, it will all come to light and you’ll regret not involving the capable people around you before things got out of hand.

#4:  Check Early, Check Often

You never delegate it and forget it.  If you are the one who assigned a task, you should also be the one who checks up on its progress.  Your first check should be done soon after the task is assigned; make sure everyone is getting off on the right foot and understands the expectations in the early stages.

Coming up with a check-in schedule will help you to manage the tasks you’ve delegated.  Keep notes on what each person is working on and when they should be finished.  This way, even though you don’t have your hand in every pot, you have a view of the big picture.

Some natural-born leaders have a hard time relinquishing total control.  They may feel that delegating means diminished power or a show of weakness.  When done well, however, delegation helps leaders accomplish much more than they could on their own.

The next time you wonder how you’ll possibly get it all done, stop wondering and start delegating.