Leadership Matters

Created to help you become the leader everyone wants to work for.

What Should You Delegate?


After I provided my 7 Step Framework for effective delegating (7 Steps to Getting Your People to Execute - when you want and how you want), I was asked this question:  how do I decide what to delegate and to whom?

Let's start with what.  As a business leader, your time is very valuable. Whether you own your business, or you work for someone else, not everything that is your ultimate responsibility should be done by you.  Remember, if you feel you are the only one who can do things the right way, you are destined to do them yourself forever.  So, figuring out what to take off your to-do list is important and allows you more time to perform tasks that only you can do -- and more time to think strategically.

Tasks that fall into these categories are some candidates for delegation:

  1. Important, but boring to you because they are no longer challenging.
  2. Especially time consuming, precluding you from more important responsibilities.
  3. So very mission critical that more than one person needs to know how to accomplish them, especially if you are not able.
  4. Complex assignments that take some time to learn and you want to oversee the transition to someone else.
  5. Complex processes that can be broken down into smaller parts accomplished by others.

Now for the who.  Find someone who is eager and willing to learn, who wants to take on additional responsibilities.  Remember that a task you find boring may be very exciting and challenging for someone who is doing it for the first time.  Encourage their enthusiasm. 

Use the process outlined in the 7 Steps and this simple training technique I learned from John Maxwell:  first, show the person how to perform the task while they watch you.  Then, let them perform the task, while you watch them.  When they are able to perform the task on their own, they are ready to take responsibility for it.  Next, have them teach the task or process to someone else; they perform the task while someone watches them.  And the process continues.

It may sound simple and yet, I have seen the cross-training process fail because people do not take the time to demonstrate, allowing the learner to ask questions and also, try it himself with experienced oversight.  And the last step of teaching someone else is critical too.  When you have to teach someone else, you deepen your own understanding because you have to explain it and answer questions.

Once you have someone trained to do a task to your satisfaction and that person can train others, it further frees up your time, energy and attention.  Set some priorities and a schedule and give everyone on the team an opportunity to be the expert at something, and therefore the trainer to others.  Teach the 7 Step Process to them.

Taking the time to learn how to delegate effectively -- and following a consistent process for delegation -- is one of the most important skills managers and leaders can develop.  It will make your life easier and much less stressful to know that others are capable.  And it’s part of the critical responsibility of training your replacement, so you can move forward.

If you don't yet have your copy of The Seven Steps Process, you can get it here.