There may be many things you struggle with as a leader. Do not let delegation be one of them. Think of delegation not as something that you can do as a leader, but instead as something that you must do.
By delegating tasks, you are providing your team with an opportunity to deliver results (in their own way) and, hopefully, to learn new skills or sharpen existing ones. Consider that by not delegating a task, you are actively preventing the growth and development of your team. You are robbing them of the experience to work through a challenge, make mistakes, and ultimately learn. As a byproduct, you are also relieving yourself of workload that could be preventing you from doing other things.
This also helps to answer the question, what should I delegate? While the answer will vary based on circumstances, generally, if someone else can do it, delegate it. There are those things that only you, as the leader of your team, can do. Those are the things that you should spend your time on. On that list should be things such as long-term or short-term planning and strategy - which leaders often fail to prioritize. Making time to coach, guide and motivate those to whom you delegate is on this list. Removing obstacles for others on your team (versus doing the work for them) is also an item that should be on this list. If you find yourself caught in routine, mundane work more often than not, than you are either not delegating properly or it is time to re-evaluate the capabilities of your team.
Delegation is not about telling people how to do things; that is teaching, which is also an important tool in a leader’s tool belt. Determining when to teach and when to delegate, and the difference between the two, is critical.
Beyond delegating tasks, consider the benefits that come from delegating responsibility and the doors that will open for you as a leader. Booker T. Washington once said, “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” This is particularly true of employees in the “professional” (exempt) classification. Delegate responsibility, and authority with that responsibility, and you will have empowered someone to perform at a level you may not have realized was previously possible. There is no substitute for giving people such autonomy.
While you can delegate tasks and authority, you cannot delegate accountability. If you are accountable for something, you may tell others that that they are accountable to it, but that does not change the accountability that you yourself hold. Attempting to relieve yourself of accountability by delegating is dangerous and unfair to your team. If this is something you are tempted to do, consider reflecting on what is causing that temptation and address that cause instead. Perhaps a conversation with your leader is in order to clarify responsibilities.
Delegation, when leveraged appropriately, is a tool that is truly an extension of your own leadership. It is the lever you pull to not only get things done on a broader scale, but to develop your team at the same time. It is a means of extending trust while at the same time instilling empowerment. Practice this skill just as much as any other in your toolkit.
�If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.� �John C. Maxwell, American author
Practice, and be well.