The Three Wins of Delegation: Overcoming the Leader’s Two Greatest Challenges

There are two challenges that most often come up when coaching leaders: feeling too busy and finding good people they trust. When a leader pauses to consider a different approach, they will see the wins that come from delegating many tasks to the capable people on their team.

Challenge 1: Leaders are Busy.

The first challenge a leader faces is how busy they are. Often described as time management, the truth is that you cannot manage time itself, only the way you use time. This is true whether you are a leader or not. It’s just that often, leaders become the most time-challenged, because of the kind of environment they create for themselves.

Challenge 2: Leaders Need Good People They Trust.

The second hurdle leaders face is the availability of good people to help deliver results. Having capable, confident, motivated people in any leader’s team is a huge step forward when they want to rise to the challenges of the modern workplace.

The good news is that there is one specific activity that can go a long way to solve both problems: delegation.

[Read more on the topic of delegation from Pluma's team of expert coaches.]

Many leaders who are overwhelmed try to do too much. They often claim that there is no one else. No one who can do the tasks they do. Yet almost without exception, every leader does more than they need to; often much more. And, once challenged, leaders can regularly find work that they could let go of, if certain criteria were satisfied.

Leaders often cite the following reasons for some tasks they cannot give up:

  • They do not have the capable people.
  • They are not comfortable in letting go.
  • Only they could do certain tasks.
  • Others are too busy.

Almost certainly, all of these are false.

[Want more leadership development tips? Check out Six More Ways to Improve Your Job Performance as a Leader.]

Learning to let go of many of the leader’s tasks can be a challenge, and it is essential that certain safeguards are in place. But, before these are resolved, let’s take a look at the three wins of delegation.

Win 1: The Team Member

When a leader decides to delegate some of their work to a team member, they are helping with the development of that individual. For this to be constructive, the team member needs to get value from the experience. They might gain a new skill and improve their marketability in their career goals. But there are other things they gain from new experiences, delegated by their leader:

  • They become more confident as they succeed.
  • Their self-belief grows.
  • They feel valued when asked to do something the leader wants to let go of.
  • They are challenged and have the opportunity to impact.
  • They may be given a degree of autonomy.
  • Their CV grows.

Win 2: The Leader

When a leader is strong enough to look inside and realise there are some things they are doing that they need not do and they decide to let go, it can be very freeing indeed. It can be a time to step back from tasks that they are familiar with and practice new skills that come with the leadership role. When a leader lets go of the easier transactions that fill their day, the leader gains:

  • Time to lead
  • Better skilled people
  • Greater motivation in the team
  • Improved morale
  • Better retention
  • Synergies
  • Better solutions (Yes, sometimes they do things even better than you can!)

Win 3: The Organisation

A strong leader, taking the time to support, encourage, and accelerate the learning of their people through delegating tasks, is the highlight winner for any organisation. If the leader’s role encompasses assessing opportunities to let go of tasks that others can do, guiding them to enhanced capability, the bar is raised, and the organisation gains by:

  • Better-skilled employees
  • Improved morale, motivation and retention
  • Stronger pipeline
  • More confident people, prepared to take more risks
  • Greater collaboration and trust
  • Improved culture
  • Easier recruitment
  • Less focus on material reward

But wait. . .

There are prerequisites for success. To delegate effectively, the best leaders are constructive in how they let go. There are some ground rules to make sure this works effectively:

  • Make sure it’s a win-win.
  • Be very clear on expected outcomes (and then double-check).
  • Provide the right level of support for the employee. (Assume nothing!)
  • Be comfortable with what you let go and touch base as often as you need for peace of mind.
  • Be clear on the benefit to the individual – and ensure they understand, too.
  • Follow up after the end with a “What went well?” & “What did you learn?” conversation.
  • Give autonomy where possible and get their input.
  • Make sure the individual is protected from failure.
  • Seek successful outcomes and celebrate.

With all these in place, a leader has more time to focus more on leadership – less on “tasks”. Their people are empowered, growing in confidence, capability, and motivation.

Being a part of the team with a leader who can delegate like this is the place to be.

Want to help your team learn to delegate effectively and overcome the two greatest leadership challenges? Check out the Pluma online coaching platform and request a demo today. Our certified executive coaches are ready to support you and your team in practicing delegation and other essential leadership skills.