When leaders do not know how to delegate effectively they will struggle to move their organization forward. Why? Leadership is about vision, responsibility, and accountability, not productivity.
It’s a difficult transition when highly productive individual contributors are promoted to leadership positions. What made them successful before will cause them to fail in their new leadership role. Some of the best leaders I know could not only delegate effectively but also had a system to stay on top of all the delegated activities.
Delegation requires some preparation from leaders. Following these three steps will put you in a position to delegate successfully as a new or experienced and struggling leader.
- Create a clear vision
- Communicate your vision effectively
- Delegate tasks to those best able to complete it
By following these three steps, leaders create a clear path for themselves and others. They lay out the expectations so that there is no confusion about what should happen next or who’s responsible for making it work because everyone on your team understands their role in achieving the vision!
Create a Clear Vision to Delegate Effectively
“What do I mean by vision?” You can’t see it. Yet, you must envision what the end state of a project might look like for your team to reach that goal. It’s vital when discussing how “done” looks because we want to talk about revenue and expenses and customers served with specificity.
As a leader, I want to know that my team is on the same page. That means they need clear goals and guidelines for achieving them together as an organization, so everyone knows what success looks like. This kind of unified vision drives better decisions because now you guide your teammates towards understanding our “why,” which moves us all forward in achieving desired outcomes!
Communicate Your Vision
Have you ever listened to a great leader speak about the future of their organization? As they talk, and as they paint that picture with words in your mind’s eye, it feels like we could be living there. It might not make sense now, but that is because our imaginations are limited by what today looks like. Covey talks about this when he discusses success with his son on the lawn; “Success was green and clean—well-groomed grass edged by freshly painted white picket fences.”
When we meet with our team, it is incumbent upon us to clearly communicate our vision for the business. I recommend you create a series of talking points on your vision for the company and then focus on repeating them consistently with everyone to fully understand what they should be doing instead of just telling them about their responsibilities. You will start hating going through those same few sentences but when that happens- know that people are finally listening!
Delegate with Intention
You’ve just had a great idea, and you know the perfect person to bring it to fruition. But how do you delegate without losing control? You don’t want your vision watered down or for someone else’s opinion with creativity put in the forefront of their mindset.
Step 1 – Define What Success Looks Like
The first step is defining what success looks like at every level – from top management through end users/customers — so that everyone has clear expectations about what needs to happen next. Once that happens, we can go right ahead and start delegating!
Step 2- Delegate to Those Most Capable
As you think about delegating a task, first ask yourself: “who on the team is best suited to this task?” Consider who has both capability and experience in completing it. If they have more time, take some steps back to develop their skills for future challenges.
After you assess capability, the next consideration is capacity. Do they have time under their current workload to do the delegated task? And if you don’t know, make sure to ask! They will be able to handle it as long as there are no other major projects due at that same time, and your work can wait a little bit longer down on “the priority list.” Companies tend to run lean and mean- but when adding more work in this way (especially for deadlines), one must always put things into perspective with everything else going on, so we’re not overworking people who already seem busy.
Once you have identified capability and capacity, be very clear on the assignment. Make sure to answer any questions they may have before agreeing with them on a set of milestones for checking in. This saves time throughout the entire process!
Step 3 – Track Progress and Celebrate Success
Finally, take the time to acknowledge and congratulate employees for their hard work. Even a few words can go a long way in making an employee feel appreciated, which will motivate them more.
The Best Leaders Delegate Effectively
Delegation is an essential part of being a successful manager. It increases your capacity and frees up time for you to focus on more significant business issues without having to do it all yourself every day. Successful delegation requires clarity, accurate assessment of team capabilities, and the ability to check in with progress periodically as needed by each person’s needs at that point in their career trajectory or life situation.
Strong leaders are strong delegators who delegate wisely – taking into account both their strengths and those they’ve been able to identify within others around them so there can be clear communication about expectations going forward when working together on more complex projects start-to-finish successfully.
If you’d like to be a better delegator, coaching can help. We can explore that opportunity together on a short consult call. Find a time that works for you.