Delegation

Delegation is up there as one of the most important skills to develop as a leader but often people feel reluctant to do so. New leaders or managers, and I include myself here, either feel that in order to get something done right they need to do it themselves or they don't have the confidence to direct other people. I know that not delegating can really wear you down and make you feel under constant pressure.

In all honesty, a single person cannot do everything themselves and delegation should not be seen as a sign of weakness, but a sign of good leadership. Andrew Carnegie put this in quite an eloquent way:

No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit

The quote raises two good points. The first being that we need to start trusting other people in order to do important tasks and secondly, when someone does their task well they need to receive the credit that is due to them.

A job of a leader is to help other team members grow by providing them with the opportunities that will allow them to do so. Even in the situation where you can do the task better yourself, but you have a team member can do it 80% as good, give it to them so that they to can learn and grow. In this way, you can create a team that is independent of you, which is one of the key findings that make leaders successful in Jim Collins' book Good to Great.

Being a leader doesn't mean that you are the best at everything. You will often find team members who are often more capable in areas than you are and it is important that you allow them to function and blossom in those areas. I particularly see this as an issue in the software development field, where egos run rife and developers think that their solutions are superior, which may not always be the case.

Benefits of delegation

Below are some of the common reasons and benefits of delegation:

  1. It allows you to focus on other important tasks
    This then fees up some time for you to attend to other matters that your team mates cannot attend to.
  2. Delegation allows people the opportunity to grow
    As mentioned above, this is an important part of being a leader as it allows your team to learn and become independent of you.
  3. It allows your team members to shine before the organisation
    This gives you the opportunity to speak positively about your team members about their accomplishments. You can help achieve this by giving them challenging tasks that you know they will succeed in.
  4. Delegation helps you understand the capabilities of your team
    This allows you to see the competence level of a team member. This can be quite useful where the person in new on the team.
  5. It helps team members get a true depiction of their abilities
    You will often find that people inexperienced, new members are quite enthusiastic and they tend to have an unrealistic view of their abilities. Delegating them tasks can help ground them and see their current level.
  6. It helps with job enrichment & retention
    If you keep your top performers motivated with challenging tasks, will not only will they be more likely to stay in the organization, but they will grow as it will be a good source of learning for them.

When not to delegate

There may be scenarios where you may not wish to delegate the work to people, such as:

  • The task will be good for your own personal development
  • You have been explicity asked to do the particular task
  • In situations where time is limited and you don't have time to train someone

So that wraps it up for this post and as always comments are more than welcome.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa