Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Power of Delegation

A good leader knows that to delegate is to multiply their effectiveness exponentially.  Effectiveness results from building teams and releasing others into ministry.  This means that the leader is self secure and is content to see others flourish. 

Humility is at the heart of a true leader.  A really good leader is so gripped by the vision and interested in developing people that they will gather around them a team made up of people who can do things much better than they can do them.  Greater is the one who multiplies the workers than the one who does the work!

All great leaders have learnt the art of delegation.  If not, at least three very negative things result.  First, they will limit the amount of work and responsibility they can handle, thus limiting their own growth.  Secondly, they will inhibit the growth of others, thus limiting the growth of the whole organisation.  Thirdly, the quality people in the organisation will leave to find a place where they are appreciated and can make a difference.

Delegation is not passing the buck.  It recognises that the task is so big that it can only be done by recruiting and empowering others.  It also means that the key leader must be free to allow others to do things differently from how the leader might do them!  Where there is a will there is a way and where there is a team there is more than one way!

The parameters for delegation depend on the competencies and experience of the delegatee.  If the person is highly skilled, has experience in the task, is mature as a leader, etc, then they can be trusted to get on with the task with little interference from the leader.  On the other hand, the delegatee might have little experience, and have minimal competence, so that the leader would need to meet regularly with them to check how they are going, what resources they need, etc.
In the first case the person might only require encouragement and personal support/recognition, while in the second case the person would require regular contact and clear direction from the leader especially in the early days.  These are two extremes, and there would be many instances of delegatees sitting somewhere in between.  Frequently leaders overlook this.  Also competency varies from one task to another.  A person who needs little supervision on one delegated task, may require much tighter supervision on a different task.

In delegating tasks it is important to make clear what is expected of the person in terms of the task itself, its outcomes, its time lines, etc.  It also should be clear what support they will receive and what reporting relationships are established. Absolute clear communication is the basis for fruitful delegation.

When should a leader delegate?  It is paramount for leaders to ask key leadership questions of themselves:  What must I do that no one else can do?  What do I do that results in the greatest outcome for the organisation?  What is the best use of my strengths?  Almost anything else can be delegated, thus empowering people and releasing latent potential.

Dean Brookes
Uniting Church Minister
Leadership Development | Coach and Mentor