Getting to ‘Yes’ When It Comes to Delegation

It’s not uncommon for leaders to find it difficult to delegate – and the reasons I’ve heard for why not to, are often repeated.

I once worked with a leader (responsible for sales and marketing in a software development company), whose 360-degree feedback strongly suggested she needed to delegate more. The feedback came as no surprise as she had good self-awareness, and she quickly embraced the goal to get better at delegation.

We discussed how insufficient delegation was impacting her and others: long and habitual work hours, high work-induced stress, and an inability to be more strategic.

She felt that the number one obstacle to delegating more often was that members of her team had little bandwidth and capacity to take on more.

I suggested she involve team members by asking what they felt she could delegate more. She pushed back saying that she was pretty sure her team were running hard, and that there would be resistance to taking on more. But after considering the pros of taking the action vs not taking action, she decided to try it out.

At our next meeting, she reported back enthusiastically: “I guessed right with 50% of my direct reports – they felt they don’t have capacity for additional responsibilities. And I was so happy to learn that the others do, and they provided great insights on what they want to be exposed to in the future”.

Involving others in your delegation practice is foundational to getting the most out of it. And the benefits are significant:

  • you’ll work smarter and not just hard
  • it stimulates autonomy and initiative
  • people can rise to the occasion when they feel trusted
  • it builds strong people engagement on a team

Asking others to help you will get you to “yes” to delegating more.

Nic Tsangarakis, Principal