Delegating Authority

The best way to wield power is to share it responsibly.

A leader is only one person and can only do the work of one person. In order to best accomplish the team’s goals and objectives, he or she must carefully delegate authority to team members.

Why we don’t delegate

Some leaders hesitate to delegate authority for the following reasons:
  • They think they can do it better themselves.
  • They fear others will make mistakes.
  • They think team members won’t like them if they give them a lot of work and responsibility.
  • They’re afraid the person will perform too well and make them look bad.
Truth is, the careful delegation of authority is one of the most important aspects of team building. When done right, it plays to the team’s strengths and gives team members valuable experience. It also gives people the opportunity to shine while freeing up the leader’s time for more important or appropriate activities.

How to delegate

While delegating authority and responsibility is crucial to team success, there are a few guidelines that should be followed:

Choose the right person.

Select someone who is capable, able and willing to take on the responsibility.

Make expectations clear.

Describe the project or task to be completed, the results expected and the timetable.

Establish how and when you want feedback on progress.

Do you prefer daily reports? A weekly e-mail?

Give appropriate authority.

Don’t give a team member a project that he or she does not have the power to complete! For example, don’t assign someone a task that requires access to a database that they can’t get into.

Get the person’s agreement.

The team member should commit to and be willing to carry out the work.