An important leadership skill that any good leader must master is the ability to delegate tasks. This is especially difficult for “helicopter managers” (those who hover over employees, micromanaging every aspect of a task). Conversely, there are other managers who delegate just about everything to others to avoid actually working themselves.
Neither approach is balanced or effective. True delegation is a power sharing agreement that involves passing various tasks to others and allowing them to make decisions and manage the responsibilities independently. The question is, what should you delegate? Here are some leadership tips to offer you guidance:
- Delegate urgent tasks, not high priority tasks—Oftentimes, we will face tasks or assignments that are time sensitive. If you find yourself buried under “urgent” tasks, consider delegating those tasks to other team members. After all, it is better to get those urgent tasks completed by someone else in a timely manner rather than missing deadlines because you had to put the task aside. Note: Be careful not to delegate high priority tasks unless you are sure that they can be properly handled.
- Consider the difficulty of the task before delegating—This requires a balanced approach. It is always a positive when you can delegate a new task to someone; it allows your employee to grow and develop new skills. Be sure to effectively communicate what it is you want done, ensuring that the directions are understood. Also, be willing to accept minor errors during the learning process. Be mindful not to give your staff member a task that he or she will not be able to handle. This will deflate his or her confidence and is poor leadership.
- Challenge and grow your staff by delegating appropriately—If you have someone in your organization that you feel is ready for more responsibility or a new position, delegate tasks that are targeted towards expanding the staff member’s skill set for that position. This allows you to evaluate and guide an individual to realize their fullest potential and decide whether or not he or she is ready to move forward without committing to anything. If the individual is not suited for what you had in mind, nothing is lost.
- Delegate to others who can perform tasks better—As a good leader, you know that everyone on your team has different strengths and weaknesses…yourself included. Utilize the skills of others to get tasks accomplished quickly and effectively.
- Delegate tasks that are not directly related to your position—If there is a task that is not central to your role within an organization, delegate it to someone! However, never delegate what is expected to be done by you. For example, if you are expected to give a presentation, it would not be wise to let the intern present the information.
- Don’t limit delegation to the crummy tasks—Avoid hogging all of the fun tasks and delegating the unpleasant ones to others. If you routinely delegate only the boring, repetitive assignments, you will decrease the job satisfaction and quality output of other staff members while increasing their stress levels. Share the good, the bad, and the ugly with others in a balanced way based on the tips above.
By following these leadership tips, you can decrease your workload, increase time management and personal productivity, and develop your staff to help them reach their full potential.
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