Delegate: An empowerment tool

Delegate: An empowerment tool
Reading Time: 5 minutes

by Marianela Rojas, Senior Delivery Director at Growth Acceleration Partners

Delegate is defined as giving a particular job, duty, right, etc., to someone else so that they will do it for you.

And let’s be honest; giving up power is always challenging, especially in leadership positions. When we talk about delegating, some questions and concerns could arise.

  • If I start delegating, that person could take away my job.
  • Or maybe they can’t do it as well as I do, which will place me as a bad leader.
  • Perhaps we just don’t want to explain to someone else how a task is done.
  • Or we don’t want to supervise that person to ensure they are doing it right.

As leaders, we need to leave these thoughts aside. If we learn how to do it correctly, delegating could be a powerful tool.

But why delegate?

There are many advantages of delegating, like empowerment, career development, and freeing our time for more crucial and strategic tasks. But here are some more details.

Give growth to others. Delegating is a way to help the people we are in charge of learn new skills and put them into practice. It provides the opportunity to benefit from others’ existing qualities by assigning tasks that we know are aligned with their interests. It is also an opportunity to identify weaknesses, establish connections, and guide the person toward growth and necessary feedback.

Free up time to do new things or focus on higher impact and priority tasks. Leaders usually have a heavier workload, including meetings, strategic work and supporting others throughout the day. To be effective, we must review our task list and identify what things could be executed by someone else. Initially, explaining and supervising may require an investment of our time. After that, we can have time for more strategic things.

Allow others to contribute with new ideas to existing processes and tasks. When the same people perform the same job, we usually enter a stage of comfort where the task is executed effectively, but we do not innovate. Our minds have already established a path, and it becomes more challenging to identify new and better ways to perform the task. Bringing a fresh perspective is always refreshing. With an open mind, we can let the person execute the job as they feel is best, without influencing them on how to do it. Always guiding them to achieve the expected result, but without limiting the other person when they try to do it in a way that is new to us.

Generate trust and motivation. Delegating is an excellent way to tell someone we trust their abilities and that we see potential in them. It frequently causes motivation and enthusiasm for a new opportunity to grow and demonstrate capabilities. It also strengthens the relationship between the leader and their team, showing the leader’s openness to generate opportunities and new challenges.

How to start delegating?

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, but here are some good things to look at in the beginning.

Begin with simple tasks. An excellent way to start delegating is by assigning short and simple tasks, which allows us to measure the capabilities and commitment of our team. As time goes by, we can start delegating more complex tasks. Some examples of tasks you could delegate for a start are planning and leading some meetings, like stand-ups, and encouraging your team members to ask questions to the client directly. Let them speak up for themselves. And allow them to help you by reviewing existing processes and giving input on how to improve them.

Delegate based on people’s strengths. It is essential to determine the abilities and strengths of each person to assign suitable tasks. For example, if we have a team member who enjoys and excels at organizational tasks, we could delegate the planning of a team activity to them. Of course, it is crucial to develop new and different skills in the people we lead, but when starting, it’s best to find tasks that align with their interests and abilities to build the necessary trust on both sides. Observe your team members closely, talk to them, and ask questions to understand their likes and dislikes. Learn about their strengths and weaknesses, and abilities.

Be clear about expectations. One mistake we often make when delegating is assuming others know how to perform the task as well as we do. It is imperative to set clear expectations and deadlines for deliverables and follow up without being the one that executes the task. We should ask if the person understands what is expected and give space for questions.

Provide initial support. When delegating a task for the first time, it is essential to provide appropriate support while letting the person perform the job and being available for questions. One way to do this is to schedule follow-up sessions from the start to discuss progress and measure if the person needs our support at a specific point. Be aware that they are going to make some mistakes on the way.

Let the person do things their way. One of the advantages of delegation is the ability to innovate and improve processes. It is challenging not to do a job on the familiar path and not follow the usual method, but a new perspective can be healthy. We may have yet to detect flaws in how we do the process, or there may be faster options for executing the same task. Different is okay. An essential leadership skill is allowing the person to flow with their creative process without imposing our way.

In conclusion, delegating is a powerful tool to help leaders achieve their goals, empower their team members and develop their skills. While giving up control can be challenging, delegation’s benefits are undeniable. By delegating tasks, leaders can free up time for more strategic work, identify weaknesses, and provide growth opportunities. Delegating also generates trust and motivation, strengthening the leader’s and their team’s relationship. To begin delegating, leaders should start with simple tasks, delegate based on people’s strengths, be clear about expectations, provide initial support, and let the person do things their way. With practice, delegation can become a valuable leadership skill that benefits both the leader and their team.