The Power and Responsibility of Delegation




Through the years, I’ve had the honor and opportunity to lead many, many teams and organizations. It’s one of the greatest challenges but also the greatest senses of accomplishment I’ve had. But, it’s not until recently that I’ve really understood the value of delegating effectively.

You see, I believe I’ve been through different stages of my professional development which has now put me in the place of being able to really engage those around me as part of the team by assuming accountability, responsibility and taking ownership for their piece of the puzzle. But it wasn’t always that way.

When I look back, I think there were different seasons I went through as a leader. And my effectiveness, or ineffectiveness of delegation, was in part based on those seasons. Early on I would be hesitant to delegate because I was new in my career. While I probably could have delegated “up”, I didn’t want to be a burden and just through I would shoulder all the load. Later as I moved into even higher levels of responsibility and authority, I bought into the lie that no one could do it better than me so I would just do it myself. What a load that was to carry every day. Under the weight of self-importance and responsibility, I was drowning. But, also, I was keeping those I was leading from gaining experience, learning from the successes and failures of those experiences, and growing as leaders themselves. Today, as I strive every day to be a high-impact leader, I make it a point to look at the people around me as I consider their strengths, the needs of the company, and the level of responsibility that’s appropriate for them to carry. Then, and only then, do I delegate. While I hold ultimate responsibility for results (that’s just what leaders do), I give great latitude for those I lead who are running with the ball to explore, to try out new directions...in a word...to LEARN. But, not everyone is the same and as a leader you need to see and know where your people are at and their readiness for responsibility.

One of the most common mistakes a leader can make is to misjudge the level of a player. If the leader doesn’t work with each player according to where he is in his development, the player won’t produce, succeed, and develop. 

According to management consultant Ken Blanchard, all team members fit into one of four categories with regard to the type of leadership they need: 

  • Players who need direction. These players don’t really know what to do or how to do it. You need to instruct them every step of the way. 

  • Players who need coaching. Players who are able to do more of the job on their own will become more independent, but they still rely on you for direction and feedback. 

  • Players who need support. Players able to work without your direction still may require resources and encouragement. 

  • Players to whom you delegate. At this stage, players can be given a task, and you can be confident that it will be done. They only need you to lead. Provide them with vision on the front end and accountability on the back end, and they will multiply your efforts toward success.

Delegation is not just about getting more done but rather its about empowering, growing, stretching, and gaining greater value in and through others.

I’ve learned there’s a big difference between delegating responsibility and accountability and while as a business owner and executive, I will maintain accountability for the overall success of the organization, I also have a role in building responsibility in those I lead for their portion of the success.

That’s true leadership and that’s the value of delegation. Everyone grows and everyone is part of the journey.

Live. Love. Lead. Leave a Legacy!

Dr. Jason