Want More Success - Delegate

The path to more success in your work and life is actually simple and involves implementing only three changes in your life.  When combined, these three things work together to create a clear path to having more success.

Are you ready for the secret?  Delegate, Prioritize, Network.

Not a secret you say? Well you are right. Practically every book or article on leadership development or personal effectiveness revolves around these three concepts: learning to effectively delegate, prioritizing initiatives, and building a diverse network of contacts.

Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll break these three down into simple, practical ways you can begin to leverage them to ensure your success in 2015.


For many of us this is easier said than done. After all, most of us got to our leadership role in the organization by being great at what we do. We have a lot of pride in doing it ourselves and being accountable for the results.

The definition of delegate is to “entrust a task or responsibility to another person, typically one who is less senior then oneself.” The key word here is entrust.

Two outcomes

By trusting those who are less senior in role or responsibility to us with doing the work or project we achieve two key outcomes.

  • We free up our time to focus on those things that provide a growth opportunity for us rather than doing what we already know how to do. In order to get to that next level of leadership or to be seen as a critical asset for the organization, we need to always learn and develop new skills/knowledge that will meet the needs of tomorrow’s issues. Delegation provides us with the only thing we need to do that…more time.
  • By assigning key tasks to your direct reports you provide them with the most effective way to establish new skills with the highest level of learning retention:  on-the-job. Developing your direct reports, all of them, not just the high-potentials, makes your entire group stronger and increases the level of engagement that they experience with the organization. Higher levels of engagement correlate directly to increased productivity, decreased absenteeism and reduced turnover.

Five steps

The process of delegating can be broken down into five key steps.

  1. Review your objectives for next year. For each item break it down and identify the projects or tasks that offer you an opportunity to do something you are not familiar with or that will allow you to leverage one of your core strengths. Keep those for yourself.
  2. Next, evaluate your team members. What are their strengths? What are their career goals? What would be the right next step for them in their progression? How do they like to work and communicate with others? If you are not sure of the answers to these questions spend time working with your team to figure it out. Think about how you can give everyone on your team an opportunity to shine.
  3. Based on this, review the projects and tasks associated with your team’s objectives and identify who is best to take it on. Be brave here. This part requires that you give up some of the control around how a project or task gets done.
  4. Working with the team members, clearly communicate the projects/tasks they are each responsible for. This means identifying what level of authority they have to make decisions and determining the path of implementation. How should they handle roadblocks or questions? What will your role in the project be? Be careful not to communicate the projects as a “test” or a way to “prove themselves.” The team members need to know that you believe in them and their abilities to succeed.
  5. Last and most importantly, don’t chicken out half-way through the project. You know what I mean – how many times have we delegated something only to pull it back under our control part-way through the process. Now, I’m not advocating that you do nothing. On the contrary - the worst thing you can do to your people at this point is abdicate all responsibility for the outcome. Instead, this is where you need to leverage your leadership skills; coaching not commanding, listening not telling, and asking great questions not giving them the answers.

Delegation is a key skill that all leaders must develop in order to be successful for the long-term. Make a commitment to yourself to hone this skill in 2015.

Join the conversation

What will you delegate today?