We begin with what I like call Jesus’ Delegation Strategy ...
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) This is a leadership development strategy. Only do what only you can do! Quit doing all the things you shouldn't be doing! When you refuse to delegate you are placing a lid on your leadership.
Why do we struggle with delegation? (How & When) Where is the balance between micromanaging and abdication?
The ability to wisely and effectively delegate is a quality far more quiet than others, and yet one of the most crucial to a leader’s success. Effective delegation is one of the keys to achieving your goals. A leader who insists on maintaining all control and authority is insecure and actually fails to even meet the definition of a leader. A leader does not do everything him or herself.
Delegating frees you up to tackle the truly important aspects of your role.
Too many leaders, believing only they are able to do things just right, insist on being involved in every single detail of their missions. They believe that this ultra-hands-on approach is good because they’re making sure everything gets done just so.
But a leader should be in charge of the overall direction of a team; looking ahead, steering the course, and making needed corrections to avoid getting off track. But buried in the small details, a leader will lose the big picture and fail to see that the mission is falling apart until it is too late.
Good leaders aren’t a slave to detail; they use time to tackle what’s truly important. And this leads to greater success for the organization.
Delegating increases the morale, confidence, and productivity of others.
A leader who takes over other’s responsibilities, constantly looks over their shoulder, and sticks his or her nose in their every doing, creates very dissatisfied people. They feel like their leader has no confidence in them. Conversely, leaders who give important responsibilities to others, along with the freedom to complete the task their way, builds innovation, morale, and satisfaction. It is crucial that we show others that we trust them.
Delegating saves you time. Not only does delegating allow you to concentrate on more important matters, it simply gives you more time in general.
Some leaders don’t believe this. “Why bother spending all that time training someone to do something that I can do myself with less trouble?” they ask. But while it’s true that training someone will involve more time in the short term, it’s an investment in the future that will pay compound interest.
Pick the best people.
The true key to effective delegation begins before you actually do any delegating at all; rather, it starts in the hiring office. Choosing the best people for your team is the most paramount part of effective delegation. Everything rests on having people that can successfully carry out the responsibilities you delegate just as well as could do yourself. Pick people who are creative and self-motivated enough to work without you constantly looking over their shoulder and giving instruction.
Delegate in a way that people will willingly accept the assignment.
When you delegate a task to someone, that person will greet the task with one of two responses: resentment or pride. To ensure it’s the latter, never delegate responsibilities that everyone knows you should specifically be doing. You delegate tasks when there are more important things that you personally need to attend to, not when you simply find a task unpleasant.
When you delegate a task, tell the person why you chose them-why you think their particular talents are well-suited for the project. Compliments go a long way, and will give the person a sense of being needed and a sense of purpose.
Also, don’t play favorites when delegating responsibilities-doling out tasks based not on talent but on who you like. Not only will this create resentment among your team members, not picking the best person for the job simply handicaps your project before it even begins.
Have consistent standards.
Leaders who complain that others don’t have the ability to tackle responsibilities competently are sometimes to blame themselves. They have not given their people clear guidance on what is expected of them. These leaders do not know themselves what they want and yet are angry when the result is not up to par. They know what they don’t like, but can’t articulate what they do want.
Give ample freedom for others to complete the task.
Once you delegate a responsibility, you are placing your trust in that person to carry out the task. Constantly jumping back in to check on how things are going will show that you do not really trust them, and thus will actually erode their morale and impede their productivity, creativity and success. Give the person room to be able to successfully complete their assignment, and remember, while there is an agreed upon goal, they don’t have to get there exactly how you would get there. Let them do things in their own way.
Giving ample freedom doesn’t mean you never check in at all. Periodically follow-up with the person, not necessarily to stick your nose in what they’re doing, but to see if they have any questions or concerns that need to be addressed.
Share in rewards and give credit and praise.
When you ask others to take on responsibilities, you cannot ask them only to share in the risk and drudgery, and not the rewards and glory. When a project is a success, a leader gives credit where credit is due. We are to treat others as true partners, listening to their feedback and respecting their ideas and opinions. A great leader understands that those on the ground often have the best insights to offer on what is really going on and needs to be done.
Levels of Delegation
A pre-delegation level. When we ask a leader to get information so that a collective decision can be made. This may lead to delegation but it may not. It's research. It's a good way to measure a person's capability without risking too much. It also assesses their level of interest. (e.g. research a new ministry initiative, site, staff member, etc.)
2. Informed Progress
Asking someone to own a task while giving regular updates along the path and letting the leader know that the task is completed. (e.g. Oakmont renovation project, when, where, how, etc.)
How do you keep from micromanaging at this level?
This level is not about telling someone how to do something. It's just asking them to keep you informed as they do it. It should be freeing to know that as a leader you are there to help but that you're not going to tell them how to do it. Each project and schedule should determine how frequently and formally you check in with one another.
3. Informed Results
At this level you, as the leader, are simply informed when the project is done. There are no regularly scheduled meetings until everything is completed (e.g. volunteer recruiting & training).
Once this level is reached there are no regular updates or meetings. No need to know when or how things are getting done. It's complete trust. (e.g. security with children, small groups, etc.) At this level you must be intentional about showing appreciation and expressing gratitude to those to whom you have delegated. At the other levels this is built in but at this level it's a dilemma because you are not regularly thinking (out of site - out of mind) about it because it is completely owned by others.
When do you step in if things aren't going well? How should you approach those times when the project isn't going well?
When these four levels are clear there is a tremendous benefit both for the one who is delegating and to the one who has been empowered by the clarity of delegation. What do you need to delegate? To whom do you need to delegate? How well do you do at this APP?
Resource: Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast - "Delegation Dilemma - Part 1 & Part 2" (July 3 & August 7, 2015) with Gavin Adams, site pastor at Watermark
Some questions to guide reflection and discussion ...
1. Describe a time when you struggled with delegating a task to someone.
2. Have you ever had a leader/boss that wouldn’t delegate? Or one that seemed to delegate/micromanage way too much? What have you learned about the tension between delegation and micromanagement as a result of these experiences?
3. Have you ever had to train/develop someone? How did that process feel to you?
4. Have you ever micromanaged someone? Is micromanaging always a bad thing?
5. What is the difference between dumping and delegation?
6. Describe a time when you were dumped on. How does that feel different than having something delegated to you?
7. Describe a time when you were delegated something and you blew it. How did that feel? How did the leader who had delegated this area to you react? What did you learn from that experience?