How to Properly Delegate as a Business Leader

Delegation defined

As a manager or board member, any time we assign even the smallest of tasks or responsibilities to an employee, we are practicing the important skill of delegating.  Delegating_business man speaking to team memberHowever, should delegating actually be considered a skill?  Well, one of the core concepts of leadership is to offer your employees a hands-on approach to furthering their knowledge of the company.  Also, it’s important they have the ability to exercise initiative in your absence, so in these terms, delegating is most certainly a skill to be learned and perfected.

Why is delegating important for managers?


In addition to helping develop the initiative and problem-solving skills of your team, delegating also improves and enhances the overall efficiency of your organization.  What is done on the smaller scale, greatly affects the larger scale.  If your team is able to perform the standard tasks needed to reach your endpoint, you are able to use your time to strategize and diagram the next course of action for your group.  This is not only good planning, but smart methodology for any company.


The knowledge you have attained and skills you’ve developed as a business leader are invaluable not only to your own career advancement, but to your company at large; which is why you need to pass along your expertise to the members of your team.  We are all familiar with the concept that learning by actually doing is most effective.  By this measure, delegating is a strategic way of helping your employees advance and develop within their own positions and careers, as well as offering you the opportunity to hone in on your own training and coaching aptitude.

What are some common delegation obstacles and misconceptions?

It’s a common belief among the executive rung that true leaders manage and do everything themselves.  However, a true leader thinks of the larger picture, the end result, and the best way to arrive there; and this is where delegating fits into the equation.

Some also may possess an inaccurate connotation that delegating certain responsibilities to their staff is a sign of weakness.  Yet, in reality, knowing what tasks can be best assigned to others and realizing that this may release blocks of your own time to be spent on vital decision-making and planning toward the same goal, is the sign of a dedicated leader.

It’s important to let go of the reluctance to redirect tasks for the fear of losing credit or the perception of power.  In actuality, a great leader is measured by the performance of his team, not how many minor assignments he undertook.  Your job is to show the way, direct, and guide.  These, done successfully, will provide the most credible and admirable outcome of all.

What constitutes proper delegation?

Communication is crucial when you are delegating to your team.  Being upfront about the work involved, honest about the nature of the project and your expectations, and clear inDelegating_drawing flow chart your task descriptions is the first step in building trust in your staff.  When a staff trusts their leader, they will be more eager and motivated to complete a project; keeping the goal forefront in their mind, rather than their frustration with the methodology they are working under.  A superior delegator is always a fair-minded one.

When is delegation not the answer?

If knowing when and what to delegate is a skill, knowing when delegation is not appropriate is equally as important.  So when should you keep the responsibilities to yourself?

When confidentiality is involved, do not delegate.  If sensitive information has been entrusted to you to handle personally, then do just that.  This is one instance where delegation is not worth the risk.

Emergencies or crisis circumstances certainly do not call for delegation when you are the one in charge.  These may or may not be as serious as they sound, but when a difficult predicament arises, others expect you to be present and ready to handle what comes your way.  Even when handling an irate or disgruntled client or customer, it’s important that you do not pass off these responsibilities.

When any risk of mistake is insupportable, it’s best not to delegate those particular tasks.  While there is a certain amount of risk involved when delegating to staff-members, there are ways to curtail the potential for damages.  For example, some companies opt to have maximum dollar amounts pre-printed on their business checks just to lessen the chances that an employee may contravene their bounds.  Team leaders should set margins that suit the needs of their particular company.

The essentials or core functions of your job should not be delegated to your team.  However, this does not mean that your team members should not be savvy to what you do or even able to operate and uphold department procedures in your absence.  However, your day to day functions, the indispensables of your job, should remain just that.

How does proper delegation promote positive morale?

Smart delegating is successful delegating, and knowing how to delegate is as consistently important as knowing how not to delegate.  Nonetheless, done correctly, delegation can turn you and your team into a powerhouse of development and efficiency.  When you encourage your employees to use appropriate initiative, you are building confidence and promoting innovation, and in turn, building company morale.  When employees feel confident and morale is high, they become more success driven; and consequently, so do you.


By Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200