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Delegation Tips for Leaders

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Leadership

[WisP level=”not_logged_in”]Delegation is one of the areas that comes up often in executive coaching sessions. The ability to delegate effectively is the key not only to good management, but to good leadership as well.

For many senior people who have risen through the ranks and know in their heart that they could do a task better than someone else, it…


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Delegation is one of the areas that comes up often in executive coaching sessions. The ability to delegate effectively is the key not only to good management, but to good leadership as well.

For many senior people who have risen through the ranks and know in their heart that they could do a task better than someone else, it can be a challenge to delegate – particularly if it is important to get the job done right first time.

Exercise caution here because a failure to delegate is a deadly trap.

The leader who does not trust his or her team enough to delegate, is doomed to spend every day swamped with other people’s work and so stressed that their decision-making ability is compromised. Not good if your role is to oversee, be strategic and drive the organisation forward. This might seem dramatic and perhaps a little over the top and yet you can probably look around you to see people micro-managing and not stepping up to their role as one of your team. If you would encourage them to delegate, perhaps it’s time to lead by example.

Here are some tips to help you delegate more often to the point where it becomes natural:

  • Ask yourself if you are the only person who is able to perform the task – if you were out of the office for an extended period what would happen to it? If someone else could cover for you, then as a leader doing it yourself is probably not the best use of your time.
  • Define the task – what exactly needs to be done? In executive coaching sessions, we find that many of our clients have not clearly defined the task to themselves, let alone to anyone else. If you’re a ‘make it up as you go along’ or ‘I just know how to do it’ kind of person, it may help to work with a coach or colleague to get how to do it out of your head and onto paper. This could form the basis of a training manual for other people.
  • Identify the person to delegate to – who is capable of doing the task, or could be capable if they were trained? Yes, short-term it might seem more expedient to do it yourself rather than show someone else, but in the long-term if you train others to do what you do, you will reap the rewards for years to come. At the moment if doing everything yourself is having an impact on your stress levels, it’s worth it to be able to let someone else share the workload, isn’t it?
  • Brief them effectively and give them the chance to ask questions. It can be tempting to make assumptions about what people know how to do and if it’s lived inside your own head for some time, you may be surprised about the things people aren’t able to pick up by osmosis.

Finally, keep asking yourself the question, ‘Is doing this task really the best use of my time?’ If you can work out an hourly rate for your own time and you could be paying someone else to perform the task a lot cheaper, it’s an easy business decision to make. If you still feel resistant to delegating, then working with an executive coach is a good option to help you uncover what’s behind that.

Executive coaching gives you the confidential space to practice your delegation skills, improve your time management and blossom into the leader you know you can be.

Copyright Hannah McNamara HRM Coaching Ltd

Hannah McNamara is the Managing Director of HRM Coaching Ltd an Executive Coaching company based in London, UK with clients all over the world. They have a team of Executive Coaches available to choose from and will manage the coaching programme for you from start to finish. for more information call +44 20 7939 9910 or contact us.
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