Good Leaders Delegate — Understanding You Can’t Do It All Yourself

“Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself, but rather getting others to do what you want them to do.” This quote, attributed to the American politician Harry Truman, summarizes the essence of delegation. An essential skill for any leader aiming to achieve their goals, develop their team, and enjoy their work. But delegating isn’t easy. It requires trust, communication, feedback, and follow-up.

Many leaders want to control everything within their team, project, or organization, making them feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to handle. However, this attitude prevents them from becoming true leaders and negatively impacts both themselves and their colleagues. But don’t worry. We’re here to show why delegating is one of the most crucial skills for becoming a good leader.

What does leadership mean and why is delegation so important?

The notion of the leader is a fascinating topic that has been the focus of study, reflection, and debate for quite some time. In Ancient Greece, leadership revolved around the idea that a leader was a hero — an outstanding individual in their field guiding others. However, as societies have progressed, so has the way we understand leadership.

Being a leader goes beyond simply having a title or position; it involves the capability to influence others toward common objectives. But, there’s a powerful tool that’s necessary to achieve this: delegation.

This action isn’t just about handing off unfinished tasks to another person. It’s about entrusting them with a portion of the work, providing the authority, responsibility, and necessary resources to get it done, all while overseeing and supporting their performance.

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The advantages of effective delegation

Delegating is crucial for two reasons: it boosts productivity and signals to your team that you trust them with significant tasks. Teamwork is always more potent than individual efforts. That’s why you can accomplish more than doing it alone by delegating effectively and working collaboratively.

Improves performance and competitivity

Leaders can make their teams and organizations more efficient and competitive by delegating. How? By letting the leader concentrate on the most critical, strategic, and creative tasks — ones that bring the most value and only they can do. This improves the leader’s performance, quality, and innovation, leading to better results.

 

Promotes team development and motivation

Delegating boosts team development and motivation. It makes team members feel like an essential part of the project, recognizing their contributions and allowing them to showcase their abilities. When leaders delegate, they show they trust others by granting them the authority, responsibility, and resources needed for the assigned tasks. This, in turn, makes team members feel valued, respected, and supported by their leader.

 

Enhances organizational culture and cohesion

Delegating strengthens organizational culture and cohesion, fostering trust, transparency, and feedback that promotes collaboration, cooperation, and innovation. This way, the leader builds a positive organizational culture based on trust, respect, and commitment.

 

How to tell when you’re overwhelmed and it’s time to delegate

If you find yourself stressed, struggling to concentrate, and noticing a decline in the quality of your work, these could be signs that you’re overwhelmed. Much like jugglers, we attempt to manage multiple tasks simultaneously, and when one slips, it leads to frustration and dissatisfaction. In such instances, especially when juggling multiple projects, delegating might be the solution you need to ease the burden and improve results.

There are some tools that can help you figure out which activities to delegate. For example, the Eisenhower Matrix allows you to categorize your tasks into four quadrants based on what you’ll tackle first, what you’ll schedule for later, what you’ll delegate, and what you’ll eliminate.

 

Example of the Eisenhower Matrix:

Urgent | Not Urgent | Important | Not Important

Do: Write a blog post for tomorrow | Finish a project proposal | Respond to client emails

Schedule: Sign up for a personal development course | Attend a professional event | Add improvements to an individual project

Delegate: Publish blog articles | Transcribe meeting notes | Respond to non-client emails

Eliminate: Attend to minor tasks | Attend a status update meeting | Share status updates.

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