The ability to let go can be one of the hardest things to learn, especially if, as a leader, you consider yourself to be a perfectionist and perhaps live by the old adage, ‘If you want a job done right, do it yourself! This, my friend, will send you swiftly along the path to burnout!

I hesitated a little with the title of this blog. Is delegation an art? In the majority of references it’s certainly described as such and indeed a talent to be ‘mastered’. And I think rightly so. I refer again to systems psychologist, David Kantor and his book, ‘Reading The Room’ as his point about delegation resonated — it becomes art rather than a process. If you give someone something to do, and follow up by saying how you want it done, it’s more like abdication. Effectively you’re stifling a person’s creativity.

Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, attributes a lot of his success to this very skill:

“Virgin’s ability to grow and diversify successfully was set in the company’s early days, with my learning how to delegate and let go… Most successful entrepreneurs are those who find people who are at least as good as, or better than, they are at running their businesses”.

For me, true delegation is:

  • painting a picture about a future state
  • providing clarity about the end result
  • time bound (managing expectation)
  • saying ‘how you get there is up to you
  • including a check point (so that the person is not left feeling abandoned)
  • being open to questions at any time

= allowing the person to learn and grow.

It’s essential to remember that it’s a two way street. Learning to delegate is clearly going to free up some of your time, allowing you to escape the pitfalls of micromanaging and instead focus on the overseeing. However, it’s not just about getting the task done, and the benefit this creates for you — it’s also about empowering an individual (or team) to develop and in doing so, giving them the chance to achieve and shine.

How are your delegation skills?

Tania Watson is the founder of Creative Coaching and an executive coach, organisational consultant and leadership specialist. Creative Coaching is a successful company dedicated to the development of senior leaders in organisations through one to one coaching, intact team development and group facilitation. If you or someone from your organisation would like to have a no obligation conversation about how Creative Coaching may be able to help, please email Tania directly at tania@twcreativecoaching.com.

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