As either formal or informal leader, you are only one person and can do the work for only one person. A good leader leverages the effort of his team to accomplish goals.
Delegation is one of the most important leadership skills that contribute toward efficiency of a leader.
We can define delegation as the transfer of authority to other people for specific task or decision.
Proper delegation always involves excellent understanding of strong and weak sides of people you are leading, outstanding communication skills, ability to grant appropriate level of authority to the person, and ability to establish the feedback on the process.
Successful delegation will tremendously amplify your personal power. However, failed delegation can entirely kill your reputation and create turbulent environment around you.
I highly recommend practicing delegation skills outside of your work or business, until you reach at least intermediate level of competency.
Many people mistakenly believe that only formal leaders can delegate. Actually, both formal and informal leaders can leverage delegation skills. Nevertheless, the best delegation always involves the combination of both.
Delegation always involves two critical elements: RESPONSIBILITY and AUTHORITY.
To be ready for delegation, you need to understand the tasks, activities and duties that you can delegate.
It is also important to identify tasks and decisions that should not be delegated.
Strong leaders distinguish between the following four categories of jobs:
- High importance/high urgency
- High importance/low urgency
- Low importance/high urgency
- Low importance/low urgency
Usually leaders perform high importance/high urgency tasks themselves because there is not enough time to delegate successfully.
Next, you need to decide to which of your team members you will delegate a task.
You should have a clear picture in your mind of what you want the person to whom you are delegating a task to achieve. Then, choose the level of control you need to execute. This will depend on two critical factors: SKILL LEVEL of a person, and the DEGREE TO WHICH YOU TRUST THIS INDIVIDUAL.
Moreover, it is vital to develop a method to monitor the progress of a person you delegate to.
Your next step is to state your expectations, including milestones and how they will report the progress. Another important thing to do in order to prepare for your delegation is to allocate appropriate resources. Then, you need to implement the monitoring method.
If monitored task requires correction, you need to inform a person how you want to change the process.
After completion, you need to review the assignment. This review should provide a positive feedback including the lessons learned to improve the future performance.
Here is an example. Let’s assume that You need to prepare a meeting and decided to delegate the following tasks:
- Reserve a conference room
- Pick up an electronic key
- Print out agenda
- Configure projector and laptop for Power Point Presentation.
You ask person A to reserve a room (ask him if he had ever done this before; if not send him an email with detailed steps required to accomplish this task). Ask him to forward you the confirmation email (to make sure that the room has been reserved); be very specific regarding the deadline and if you don’t get an email, follow up to identify the status of the task.
Ask person B to pick up an electronic key (Instruct her to do it several hours before the meeting and send you an email to confirm.) Also, ask person B to print out the agenda two hours before the meeting and send you a confirmation email. Make sure that she has appropriate resources (file with agenda). These two tasks are relatively simple and you should not be concerned too much. Check your email one hour before the meeting and if you still did not get a confirmation, then, do it yourself.
The last task requires a person who already has experience configuring projector and laptop. If you have a person with this experience, make sure that he has a laptop and that the conference room has a projector (this info should be included in the confirmation email from person A). Call him three hours before the meeting to make sure that he is available and keep in mind the assignment. Remember, technology sometimes does not work, so print out Power Point Presentation to backup yourself.
The next level of delegation skills is to delegate responsibility that in turn involves delegating responsibility.
Toastmasters International is a great place to practice this advance skill. Toastmaster of the Day (whose responsibility is to prepare and facilitate a meeting) supposed to delegate responsibility to General Evaluator, who in turn needs to delegate part of that responsibility to each member of her team.
I will provide information related to other CRITICAL LEADERSHIP skills in my future articles.
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