How To Delegate More Effectively

It’s a common challenge facing many Leaders. They know they should del­egate, they know its the right thing and it’s best for the team members . But then comes a
05 Jan 2019 11:00
How To Delegate  More Effectively
Mark Wager

It’s a common challenge facing many Leaders.

They know they should del­egate, they know its the right thing and it’s best for the team members .

But then comes a nagging little thought in the back of the their mind that says “it’s easier to do it myself.”

This thought then gets louder and is soon joined by another thought “by the time it took to explain to someone else how to do it I could have done it myself”.

And then those thoughts form the conclusion that no one else could do it to the standard that you can do it and that settles it and rather than delegate you do it yourself.

This continues until your work builds up and you eventually find yourself doing two jobs, one as the Leader and the second job, doing the work for those you are meant to lead.

If this sounds familiar to you then you will find this article invaluable.

If the above scenario is familiar then this is probably what has hap­pened.

You were a star performer, doing well in your role, so well in fact that you were offered a promotion which meant you were placed in charge of people who were once your col­leagues.

When once you were judged by what you did personally now you are judged by what others do and those others don’t, in your opinion have the same high standards and ability as you have and now you are frustrated.

This is an all too common scenario that I see often when I’m coaching leaders.

So let me share with you some tips that have helped other leaders like yourself.

What’s easy for you may not be easy for others

Firstly you need to be aware that you may be making a fundamental mistake when delegating.

In 1999 David Dunning and Justin Kruger, both social psychologists conducted a study on the link be­tween a person’s ability and their level of self awareness and they came to some interesting conclu­sions.

Firstly the more incompetent a person was the less aware they were of their incompetence and secondly they also discovered that the more competent the person was the more they underestimated the complexity of the work they did.

This meant that when someone has a lot of technical knowledge and is highly competent and is then placed in a position to delegate or teach those tasks to others they have a ten­dency to assume the work is easy .

This is because they find it easy themselves unaware that others may find it difficult.

Leaders in this position need to understand that they need to com­municate differently with different people.

It is always the leaders responsibil­ity to ensure his/her team has the knowledge and resources to per­form a task to a high standard be­fore delegating a task.

Moreover a leader must not dele­gate his own tasks and responsibili­ties and must be in control.

Otherwise delegation can also be seen by the team as abdication of leadership and responsibility and this is bound to create friction.

Communicate clearly

Successful leaders understand that it’s not what you say, it’s what people hear that counts and if you are not communicating effectively then you are not leading.

When you delegate tasks to some­body you need to ensure that you provide all the information that they need and while this can change from person to person there are al­ways the same fundamentals that need to be covered.

What, why, how, and when.

While delegating, ensure you ex­plain what needs to be done, in enough detail so that there’s no room for misunderstanding.

Then explain why so that people understand the impact of what they are doing and how this task fits within the bigger picture.

This provides an understanding of the importance of the task.

The next stage is how.

It’s best at this stage to ask the person how they intend to perform the task rather than asking them if they know how to do it. Remember Dunning-Kruger.

If you just ask if a person can do it then there’s a good chance they will say yes and it’s only later on they re­alise they didn’t know how to do it either because they couldn’t or you didn’t explain it clearly so by ask­ing how they would approach this task it creates ownership and helps both parties understand what is re­quired.

Finally you need to explain when.

Don’t assume people know the ur­gency and don’t assume how busy the individual is so make it clear when the task needs to be done by.

Don’t do what’s easy – do what’s right

There’s an old saying, give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, give a man the tools to fish then he can feed his family for a lifetime.

Whenever a Leader fails to del­egate they are preventing one of their team an opportunity to learn a new skill and without new skills employees find their career oppor­tunities limited which is bad for the individual, bad for the team, bad for the company and even bad for the leader.

When you become a leader you are no longer solely judged by what you do, instead you are judged by what others do and your influence on them so when your team fails so do you.

This requires a change in your mindset as a leader and you need to start putting the team first so to be honest it may still be easy to do things yourself but the best leaders don’t do what’s easy,.

Instead they do what’s right and what’s right is to share your knowl­edge so others can have the same op­portunities that you have had.

Mark Wager is one of the world’s top leadership experts.

If you would like Mark to train your Leaders contact him at


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