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Leadership Strategies: Skill 5 - Delegation

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle

In some ways, delegation is the most important skill of them all. I have already touched on reasons why it is essential not to try to do everything yourself. The key to making that happen is to learn how to delegate effectively.

In this section, we will discuss why delegation is necessary and supply tips to help you delegate the right tasks to the right people.

Why You Should Not Try to Do Everything Yourself

To be a great leader, you need to know how to delegate tasks and – just as importantly –to whom to delegate them .

You might have a ton of energy and the will to do everything yourself, but as I said before, it is not always an effective strategy. Not only will you be shouldering the responsibility for tasks that are not in your wheelhouse, but you also run the risk of burning out.

We all need downtime – and we all do our best work when we focus on what we are good at and love to do. Delegation allows you to focus your time and energy on the things you are best at and the things only you can do.

You will have more time to lead because you will not be burned out from trying to do everything.

Tips to Help You Decide What to Delegate to Others

The trick to outstanding delegation is knowing two things:

Which tasks and jobs can be delegated, and?

Who should manage those tasks?

So, let us take each of these things in turn, starting with knowing which tasks to delegate. You should delegate:

Something that your team members excel at

Something they can be taught to do

Things that do not require your input

It might be helpful to start by finding only things you can do. These may include making strategic decisions about your team or meeting with investors.

Then, make a list of the things you can delegate. Once you have the list, it is time to think about who the best people are for those jobs. Here are questions to ask:

Which team members already have skills that make them suitable for the task?

Which team members are aptitudes for core skills, like communication, teamwork, or logic?

Which team members are eager to learn and take on something new?

These questions can help you find people ready to manage the tasks and responsibilities you have discovered.

Once you have found the people you need, you should consider the training and support they will need to succeed with their delegated tasks. You may need to spend some one-on-one time with them or pay someone else to train them. They may need an outside class or seminar.

Delegate the tasks, and make sure you communicate clearly and in detail about what you expect from each team member.

Make yourself available to answer questions, and most importantly, remember that they may not get it right on the first try.

There is a chance that you may need to adapt along the way. You might not pick the best team member for every task on your first try. The key is to keep an open mind, listen, and be patient.

You will need all your leadership skills to decide what to delegate, choose the best people for each job, and guide them along the way to success. That is why I saved delegation for last – because it is a skill that necessarily incorporates all the others we have discussed.

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