Whilst great personal leadership stems from your own ability to lead yourself and others, there will come a time when you need hand some responsibility to your colleagues, especially if there are other high-profile activities that require your full attention. Mastering the art of delegation is critical to your long-term success as a leader, and it requires careful planning, introduction and training to practice it effectively.
Effective delegation requires clear communication. People will react positively to increased responsibility if they have been thoroughly briefed and know what is expected of them. Take your colleagues to one side and discuss your plans openly with them, allowing them the opportunity to ask questions about the tasks ahead.
If you feel it’s appropriate, then you can present the idea in a nonthreatening and informal manner, asking for their opinion on who they think would rise to the challenge. By adding at the end that you believe they have what it takes to handle the added responsibility, you will instil confidence in that person and give them the motivation they need to embrace the workload. This approach will also help you receive insight and ideas about how to address the project most efficiently.
When handing over responsibility, it’s important that you don’t overwhelm the person in question, as an overload of unnecessary pressure would be counterproductive. Therefore, it may be wise to start with a smaller task and build it up over time, assuring them that you’ll be there to support them throughout the journey. Over time, you can slowly remove yourself from the picture as your colleagues build experience and confidence.
It’s important that delegation isn’t used to offload undesirable tasks onto others. Your colleagues must recognise the added responsibility as a development opportunity that proves they have earnt the trust to oversee projects on their own. To reinforce this, you should encourage colleagues to report back throughout the process, implementing a structure where you can offer feedback on their progress. Gradually, you can move to more informal supervision, reminding them that you’re always available if they have any questions.
When delegating responsibility, it’s crucial that you give that person the authority to act as they see fit. This includes addressing the rest of your workforce and letting them know of the changes, so that they have a clear understanding of who is overseeing the project. This will inspire cooperation and collaboration, whilst giving confidence to everyone that you have faith in the appointment.
Once you have delegated responsibility, you must then stand behind the decisions they make and back their judgment. If an error is made, then use it as an opportunity to coach them and ensure it doesn’t happen again. Whilst that person will take personal responsibility for the decisions they make, your organisation is still accountable, so you must give them the support they need to succeed.
Delegate increasing authority and responsibility levels and you can achieve the productivity benefits of empowerment.