Effective Delegation in Leadership

Delegation, surprisingly, isn’t a skill we’re taught early on. Kevin Stansfield, the visionary behind Action Coach Solent and author of Profit Builders, the Big Dipper, and the Great Game, guides us on this exciting journey. Let us dive into the common fear leaders have about delegation. In this blog, discover a straightforward yet potent strategy for achieving growth, centering on three key elements: setting clear goals, effective delegation in leadership, and surrounding yourself with individuals who challenge you.

A team of people in a meeting - Delegation in Leadership


Do leaders have a fear of delegating?

Delegation is a constant topic among business owners and leaders. But here’s the catch: most leaders are terrified of it. Oddly enough, no one teaches you this stuff in school. Delegation is a skill you pick up along the way, especially if you’re climbing the ladder in one organisation. Managers, dealing with a load of tasks, find themselves short on time. They’re burning the midnight oil, often doing everyone else’s work after a full day. Why? Most probably because they genuinely care about doing a top-notch job. With bosses piling on more tasks, sometimes it’s just quicker to do things yourself, no need for overthinking.

Delegating means entrusting specific outcomes and goals. For instance, hiring a marketing director to generate a set number of leads in the next three months provides clarity and accountability. On the other hand, abdication is the easy way out—giving your tasks to anyone to avoid planning, thinking, or worrying about the details. It may feel like a relief, but it lacks the precision of delegation. The choice between the easy path of abdication and the more demanding route of true delegation shapes a leader’s effectiveness.


Have you read: The Peter Principle by Laurence J. Peter & Raymond Hull


Leadership VS. Management

Leadership involves having a great team. Imagine this: it’s Monday, you outline the plan, make sure everyone knows their tasks, and trust them to get it done. If you’re dealing with competent, well-trained adults, you don’t need to hover over them every minute of the day.

Now, management is a different story. It’s like overseeing a group that needs constant attention, similar to managing kindergarteners. But here’s the part we often forget, especially in middle management – coaching. Instead of just seeing yourself as a leader or manager, approach your role from a coaching perspective. Your job is to guide, support, motivate, and drive your team to peak performance. If you find yourself almost micromanaging every team member, shift your mindset and delegate effectively, starting with having a clear vision for the team.

If the manager is the busiest person on the team, then something’s wrong. Yeah, if the manager sitting at their desk, with nothing on their desk, sitting twiddling their thumbs, then they’re doing something right Because they’ve delegated and their team is working.


Have you read: Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team


Team working together - Delegation in Leadership


Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Building a team involves five crucial levels. Trust forms the foundational level – without it, progress is impossible. Moving up, the second level confronts the fear of conflict. Great teams engage in healthy disagreements, expressing opinions without hesitation. The key is accepting decisions collectively, and recognising the best reasons behind them, even if personal opinions differ. Once this harmony is established, commitment follows. Individuals feel free to voice their thoughts and can wholeheartedly commit to the team’s goals. Subsequently, accountability kicks in, leading to tangible results. 

Trust forms the core of effective team management. However, trust within a group weakens with more people involved. Psychologically, humans maintain close relationships with about six individuals. Consider your circle of friends and family – typically around six people that you have that implicit trust with. In large corporations, surpassing this intimate circle, such as having 600 members, poses a challenge. 


Which Tasks to Delegate First

Starting a business often stems from a passion for what you love, but many are not prepared for everything else around it. Naturally, the tasks you should delegate first are the ones you don’t enjoy doing. Ideally, because businesses thrive on sales and making a profit, the first task to delegate should be marketing, especially if this isn’t your strong suit. As your business expands, you’ll find that you will also need to delegate roles such as CEO, finance, operations, HR, marketing, and sales directors.

Ninety-eight percent of businesses fail to surpass a million-dollar turnover, not due to lack of ability, but rather a deficient organisational structure. It is important to profile the team to understand the different perspectives and focus of each role. The crucial part is recognising the existing structure and allowing individuals to voice their feelings over decisions. While other leaders may express their opinions, having the final say isn’t always possible, especially for company owners or shareholders. Ultimately, everyone in the business should find a balance in terms of dynamics.


How to Succeed With Delegation in Leadership

Changing long-standing habits is challenging, especially for tired and fed-up business owners. It’s best to instill the right mindset early on, thinking like a managing director of a large business from day one, even if you’re a solo entrepreneur. The key to effective delegation in leadership is having a clear vision for your business’s future in five or ten years. Use the IVVM approach: idealise, visualise, verbalise, and materialise to get started with this mindset shift.

Confident leaders grasp each team member’s role, set clear expectations, and value diverse perspectives. If you don’t delegate, don’t be upset about not having enough time or business growth. It’s your responsibility. Take charge, change your mindset, and start delegating today!

What’s your takeaway from this blog? Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on YouTube. You can listen to the full The Art of Delegation for Effective Leadership podcast episode.

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