One of the first pieces of advice you likely received when you became a leader was that you need to learn to delegate. This well-meaning advice acknowledges that as a leader you will have more to do than ever, and that handing some of those tasks to others is a good and productive strategy. That can be true, but often leads leaders to delegate ineffectively and unsuccessfully. There are several reasons to delegate that are just as practical (and important) and have a far greater chance of real success. Here are five of those reasons.
Delegate to Develop Others
This is the single biggest reason to delegate. Every leader (at least any reading an article like this) wants their team members to grow, develop and build their skills. Most team members want the chance to grow, too. Tasks effectively delegated provide that chance in real time on work that matters. Delegate in a way that helps people see that as they learn and master the delegated task, they are building their skills and experience.
Delegate to Build Confidence
Who doesn’t want more confident team members? The fact is as we build our competence at a task, our confidence builds too. (You can read more about that idea here.) Plus there is confidence that comes with the act of our leader handing us some important work to do. The act of delegating to us can show us that you have confidence in us – which builds ours in that moment.
Delegate to Build Trust
One of the fastest ways to build trust is by showing you trust someone with your actions. The act of delegating important work is a perfect example of this act. When you delegate a task to someone you are creating a trust building moment. Think back in your career and I bet you can find a moment where trust was built when something was handed to you to be completed.
Delegate to Create Engagement
If you want more engaged team members give them meaningful work to do. When people never get new tasks and see themselves going through the motions on work they already know and have mastered, there isn’t much reason to be engaged. But when new work is given, work that can make a difference for the team and organization, people will likely get excited. It is hard to step up our level of effort, excitement and engagement when there is nothing to step up to.
Delegate to Create Opportunity
When people have the chance to do some new work, and they do it well, they may have a variety of opportunities. They may get thanks and recognition, but they may also be seen in a new light. When people have shown they can do more and do it well (and how often can that happen with having additional tasks delegated to them?), the chances for promotion and other opportunities grow.
One of the reasons to delegate is to free our time for other activities, but that is a selfish reason. Notice that the other five reasons I have listed are all focused on the person being delegated to. Sure, when we delegate, we are giving someone another task to do – but we are also giving them an opportunity to learn, grow, contribute, and much more.
When we view delegation as an opportunity for others, we will communicate the tasks more effectively, support the efforts better, and get better acceptance and results. And yes, in time, you should have time for other work too. Consider that as a side benefit. Delegation isn’t dumping our work on others – it is giving them a chance to grow and contribute in new ways.
What will you delegate – for the right reasons – today?
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