From Doing to Leading: The Art of Delegation

Mar 14, 2022

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Written by: Erica Johnsrud, Dale Carnegie of ND and MN

If there were a way for you to find more time for yourself and also build your people, you would want to know more about it, wouldn’t you?

When done correctly, delegation is a logical process with planning and forethought that leverages talent, skills, and workload to create a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Dale Carnegie once said, “People are more likely to do what you would like them to do when you make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.”

Delegation is such a powerful tool that empowers your workforce, manages your time, and turns ideas into innovative solutions. Delegation is not dropping the workload, dumping work off on someone else, or distributing without asking. Delegation is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person to carry out specific activities.

How, as leaders, do we get out of the “doing” trap? It all starts with a plan.

Think about a time that you truly delegated a task to a team member. You identified a task that someone else on your team had the skills and knowledge to accomplish, you met with them, and they were happy to do it – in fact, they were honored you trusted them with the task.

Mr. Carnegie’s principles come in to play again when we “Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.” When tasks are delegated in an appropriate manner, team members feel empowered and trust. A true leader shines through when they know the skills their team has that their team may not even realize before being given a task.

In my personal experience, delegation has been a huge confidence booster, and it has allowed me to take my skills to the next level. It has also made me feel like a trusted and valued employee.

A few days after starting with the Dale Carnegie Training team, I was included in a meeting with a local magazine publication to learn more about a contribution partnership that we had coming up. When the call ended, I had all the information about the project I would need and Bethany, my boss, looked at me and asked, “Do you think you would want to take this on?” She then followed it up with providing appropriate resources and making sure to check-in as well as being available for review and feedback.

Bethany gave me a fine reputation to live up to as she knew I could do it, and I wanted to make her proud. I found while performing the task I was challenged in a great way to expand my knowledge and skill. In fact, during our follow up I was able to express how much I enjoyed taking on the project, and I am now able to take on more that are similar that come our way – for example, this very article!

Easier said than done, right?

I will not argue with that! It is, however, extremely important that leaders commit to a delegation process. In our leadership courses at Dale Carnegie Training, participants have an opportunity to take a deep dive into this process.

The delegation process to develop people has eight steps.

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Steps one and two can be interchangeable depending on your needs as a leader. These steps are to select the person and to identify the need. Is there something that you are good at that you are still doing after your last promotion that eats up a lot of time? What is something you are doing that is important to your organization that you could or should delegate? What are some of the criteria we need to keep in mind when selecting the right person?

The next step is to plan the delegation. Before we delegate, we need to be sure we know the goals and outcomes.

Step four is often where delegation either works or it does not. Step four is to hold a delegation meeting. During this meeting we need to make sure to go over specific results to be achieved, rules and limitations (i.e., budget, timeline, check-in points), and performance standards. From there we create a plan of action, and then review the plan. While reviewing the plan, the delegator wants to make sure that the plan is mutually agreed upon. It is important to be aware of micromanaging during this step. Be clear and concise while leaving room for questions and ideas.

After an agreement is met on the plan of action, it is time to implement! Be sure the receiver knows that they have your full support. The last step in the process is to maintain a positive follow-up system to be sure results are accomplished. Open communication is crucial during the whole process.

In today’s business world of more, better, faster (with less!), delegation is key to continued growth, innovation, and workforce development. Utilizing Dale Carnegie’s principles can get you on the right track to a successful delegation process.

To learn more about how Dale Carnegie Training can help take a deep dive into delegation in your organization, visit their website.