Stop Thinking About Delegating and Do it!

How many times have you said (or heard), “It’s faster if I do it myself” or “it’s easier if I just do it myself”? To me, these are cover-up statements for saying either I don’t want to give this to anyone or I don’t trust my staff.

Delegation is critical to leadership. Period. No leader can do all things at all times. We intellectually know this but emotionally, not so much. Delegation is a key tool for generating better efficiency and empowering employees by giving them greater responsibility and autonomy. Very simply delegation helps get things done.

You, as a leader, can’t take on more responsibility or focus on other priorities unless you are willing to delegate to others. However, to the average control freak, it isn’t always easy. So what gets in the way? Fear!

  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear that someone else will do it better
  • Fear that it will take too long
  • Fear that it won’t’ be done right
  • Fear that you won’t get what you want


But mainly, I think it is a fear of losing control. So, what are some of the things you can do to be an effective leader using delegation as the driver?



  1. Be clear on what level of responsibility you are downloading. This is so very important. If you are (for example) delegating tasks to be done exactly as you outline but don’t’ make that clear, you have in effect given the person the authority to take things in another direction. And sorry, but you can’t fault them for that. Or the reverse, you may think you are telling them to act on their own with no need to report yet they seem to check in with every little thing. In other words, clarify the expectations on the front end and mean them. I recently went through a long and tedious project where things were not made clear and it was painful for all concerned. Had that clarity been established upfront, 90% of the issues that arose could have been avoided.
  2. Delegate to the right people. One of the biggest mistakes is delegating the task to the wrong person and by wrong, I don’t’ necessarily incapable. They could be very capable people who have never done this particular thing before. Either way, things are more likely to go off schedule when you don’t select someone with the appropriate skillset and experience.
  3. Agree on what is to be done. Take the time discuss the job with that person and agree upon what must be done upfront. Define the KPI”s, budgets, resources, etc. at the onset. The more time you take to discuss and agree upon the end result or objective, and achieve absolute clarity, the faster the job will be done once the person starts on it. If you don’t and things go off the rails (by your definition), remember it all starts with you.
  4. Take the time to outline how the job should be done or how you would prefer it to get done.
  5. Be clear on timelines/deadlines and if you ask the project leader to set them, make sure you read and agree to them the beginning.
  6. Invite discussion and recommendation. It makes the staff feel that they are contributing and can safely bring forward ideas

Learning how to delegate is not only about maximizing your own productivity and value; it is also about maximizing the productivity of your staff. Your job as a manager is to get the highest return on the company’s investment in people.


By: Ellen Smith, Business and Marketing Coach
SHO Agency – November 2019