/ Delegation: learning how to become an empowering leader

Knowledge Base Article
Article Type: Blog
Author: Bibi M

Delegation: learning how to become an empowering leader!

Team meeting with leader

The problem of delegating up!

One of the biggest problems you might encounter as a CEO, is engaging your senior team. Having gone through the process of sourcing the best people, you find that these people are not taking responsibility for deliverables and delegate back up to you in a way or another.

“We think that it is partly to do with the actions and management style of the CEO”

This seems to be a recurring problem. We think that it is partly to do with the actions and management style of the CEO – i.e. they are allowing people to delegate upwards, getting too involved in the decision-making process or not allowing them to fail and learn. This can disempower people.


> Master your delegation skills – Use this tool! <


Equally we think the problem points to a lack of process itself. You, as a leader, must learn how to delegate, so you do not become the roadblock for growth and development of your business. Delegation is one of the most difficult skills to master. Why? Because it is learning how to let go and trust others to do things well.

“Learn how to let go and trust others to do well.”

How to delegate?

Most leaders want to delegate but they do not know how. If this is you, we have developed a simple process to help you master your delegation skills and focus on things that matter most. To implement this process, just follow the 7 steps below:

Step 1: Learn what not to delegate

In your current role, determine what you would like to:

Start button Stop button Keep button


This exercise will involve writing down the activities of your daily role and then marking KEEP or STOP next to them and then write down the activities you would like to start doing to make the business more successful. KEEP what you must be ultimately responsible for (as the owner or a CEO or a senior leader there is always one or two areas that you have the ultimate responsibility for).

This tool helps you to then create a structure for you to be able to delegate the activities that are “keeping you busy” but not contributing directly to developing your business.

Step 2: Select the person/people for delegation

Sometimes the right person is not obvious, so take the risk to go for the not so obvious choice. Some tasks and responsibilities will stretch the person’s abilities, so allow them to grow.

Step 3: Show them what good looks like

Take the time to explain the expected outcomes and what good result looks like. Paint the picture for them and help them visualise it. Determine what feedback they expect from you. This will help clarify the key accountabilities, the professional competencies, the rewards, the culture the skills that are required and what the person should be able to bring.

Step 4: Allow first-hand observation

One of the most critical activity in delegation is ensuring the person you are delegating to is able to do the task/activity at least 80% as good as you – and in a way that you expect it to be done. This will help you with letting go and trusting the person to do a good job. Seeing the way you do it will help them learn faster too.

Step 5: Coach and critique their work

Step 4 and step 5 are normally overlooked in the delegation process. Why? Senior leaders expect other senior leaders to be as good as – if not better than – them. They assume that they have hired the skills and competencies needed for the job to be completed successfully.

However, what they fail to realise is that the complexities of the organisation and its culture are unique to the organisation. As a result, it takes 6 months, at least, for a new leader to onboard fully into the organisation. Small businesses often do not have that time to wait to see return on investment, so they expect immediate results. Coaching will ensure that right mix of support and direction is given, moving the person through the development cycle until a task can be fully delegated.

Step 6: Measure the progress

We need feedback to help us understand whether we are on track and what we need to work on. Frame the feedback by developing conversations and sharing where they are on the development cycle, what is going well and what needs to improve. When providing feedback, jump on the opportunity to engage them in a conversation on trends in the markets, developments in the industry and the company’s vision. This will also make it easier to make them visualise how their personal aspirations, plans and dreams fit into the big picture.

Step 7: Give recognition and show appreciation

As per Williams James, “the deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated”. It is impossible to be motivated and do great work if you do not feel that somebody cares and appreciates what you do.

Final Thoughts

When we empower people, we do not stop managing them. What changes is the way we manage them – we set direction but we let them steer their way to the goal. Remember, we are more likely to see a rise of creativity and initiative if we empower. The best way to develop responsibility in people is to give responsibility. Mistakes are inevitable, but with little planning and appropriate feedback, leaders can catch small mistakes before they become major problems.


> Master your delegation skills – Use this tool! <

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