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Delegation – Is It Important?

A key area that Leaders often struggle with is delegation and, due to their reluctance to delegate, they fail to empower others and lose track of what their role as a Leader is.

Neil was recently asked 3 questions abour delegation by a large corporate organisation and below are his responses:

1. Why do you think delegation is important?

Leading is about increasing your impact by engaging others.  I start ‘The leadership Book’ with this definition because it is essential that leaders understand that their role as leader is to encourage, enable and allow the effort of others.  One person can feasibly work long and hard hours, and perhaps achieve as much as two or even three people, but this usually comes at a cost; to mental and physical fitness, and to relationships.  So effective leaders allow others to get on and achieve things, rather than trying to do everything themselves.  Delegation is a useful concept for leaders; giving tasks to team members rather than the leader doing the task themselves, but I would advocate an even braver approach where the leader ensures the team understand the overall objective, and then allows them a great deal of freedom to devise their own activity working towards the objective.

2. Why do some managers avoid it?

Most managers have had little or no leadership training, and may have had some very poor role models – as a result they don’t really understand how to lead effectively.  It is very common for insecure leaders to believe that they have to be seen to work the hardest, or that they need to demonstrate that they have all the answers.  This makes no sense, and ultimately means that most of the initiative and intelligence in the team is disengaged.  Ideally the leader creates a culture where everybody in the team is able to think, contribute and create – this engages the full thinking power of the organisation.

Define the clear and compelling purpose of the organisation and make sure everyone understands it.  In organisations where behaviour is tightly controlled, usually the purpose is either unclear, or not particularly meaningful.  Rather than micromanaging and controlling the work of others like an office sheepdog, make sure the purpose of the organisation is well understood and that people are fully committed to that purpose.  Then let the team think, create and act in pursuit of that purpose.  The most important things you do as a leader are to define the purpose or the organisation, and create a trusting and inclusive culture that encourages, supports and even expects independent action in support of the clear and compelling purpose.

Neil Jurd OBE is the author of the leadership Book, and founder of the online leadership platform and training company