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10 Ways to Delegate That Build Leadership Capacity

By Martha Lasley
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If someone else can do the job 70% as well as you can, delegate. When I offer this guideline to leaders, the reaction can be brutal. "Our customers won’t accept 70%!" or "Are you crazy? We’d go out of business in a week."

Once people start putting this practice to work, it doesn’t take long for them to experience the power of delegation. Nothing builds the capacity of the team faster than a plan for delegation.

A reluctance to delegate insinuates an expectation of incompetence that can leave staff members feeling discouraged. As managers become better at delegating, they hover less and a more trusting environment takes over.

When managers let go of the "if you want the job done right, do it yourself" mentality, they their staff becomes more empowered. The power-over mentailty shifts to shared power which liberates creativity.

Most staff members appreciate opportunities to develop themselves and they start performing at higher levels than expected. Effective managers aren’t surprised that their employees can do parts of the job better than themselves, because it’s part of the leadership development plan.

Empowered employees bring new perspectives to the task and improvements to the process. Sometimes they bring more creativity, pay closer attention to details, or they offer a fresh excitement that invigorates others.

Ten key points to remember when you delegate:

  1. Get clarity on what is the best use of your time
  2. Recognize the talents and the value of each of person on your team
  3. Make requests, not demands, so that you get employee input
  4. Establish specific, measurable objectives together
  5. Empower employees to create their own solutions
  6. Share the power and resist the temptation to micromanage or take over
  7. Co-create an inspiring but attainable schedule
  8. Develop a collaborative reporting and feedback system
  9. Keep a log of who, what and when you delegate for tracking purposes
  10. Celebrate achievements and relationships between team members

Too many managers make the mistake of giving away the best parts of their job because they think it’s "easy", and end up keeping the parts they despise or have no talent for.

With a little foresight, delegators can create the perfect job for themselves and for their team. That’s no small feat. Today, six out of ten people don’t like their jobs. What a travesty that so many equate working with doing what they don’t like. Business people who lead with a servant’s heart, not only love their work, but they also love the people they work with.

To acceleration your trajectory into leadership, look for new ways to put your heart and soul into your work. By taking the lead, you can support people in creating an environment where employees embrace work more wholeheartedly.

Elbert Hubbard said, "It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover abilities in others is the true test." Mastery is nothing compared to helping others become great. Taking people from 70% competence to beyond 100% has a power all its own.


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