Where Did You Learn To Delegate?

Where did you learn to delegate? Most of us didn’t have a class in delegation, yet it’s one of the most important tasks of a leader. Leaders must move from getting things done . . . to getting things done through others. A big assumption in that transition is: DELEGATION.

It’s not like we are born to delegate, so we must have somehow learned it along the way. Maybe we observed how our school teachers gave us assignments. Maybe we learned from working on a project and how the group divided up the tasks. Maybe we received guidance from a seasoned mentor or an experienced manager. However we learned to delegate . . . we most likely learned it “on-the-job” by observing and experimenting. That makes delegation messy.

In my first leadership role as a Business Manager, in a clinic with a team of four, I took on the delegation job systematically and objectively. My experiences with delegation were limited, so I leaned heavily on the teacher-student model of passing out assignments. Well, needless to say, it didn’t work so well because it didn’t factor in the human side of employee engagement. School is a “have to” and work delegation needs to be more of a “get to” element to be successful. 

That experience could have tainted my whole perspective of delegation, instead it became an important lesson to facilitate the delegation conversation. Delegation is not a one-way street. To be effective and achieve the greatest potential we need to talk about it, together. In this dialogue we can create a partnership that will evolve as the needs of the team and organization evolve. 

Delegation is giving others the opportunity to participate in the story.  If you have a good story, people will line up to get involved – to play a part in the story.”

~ Eric Phillips

In this next series of blogs, I will do a deep dive into the questions every leader has about delegation. Let’s make our “on-the-job” experience of learning how to delegate a little easier by answering these questions ….

  • How do you know when to delegate?
  • What do I delegate and what do I keep?
  • How do I delegate to the right person?
  • How can delegating help people grow?
  • How do I “hand-off” the new responsibility?
  • How do I prevent micromanaging?
  • Why don’t we delegate?
  • What do I do when delegation goes wrong?
  • What is the upside of delegation?

If we can answer these important questions and overcome our hesitation to engage in the delegation experiment, research shows that the benefits are worth it. Leaders who delegate:

Join me in this next blog series to answer some of these important questions about delegation!

Next Steps

  1. Reflect on your delegation experience. 
    • How did you learn to delegate?
    • What delegation experiments have you tried that worked well? What delegation experiments did not go so well? 
    • What do you need to know that you don’t currently know about delegating?
  2. Comment below or send me an email with any other questions you have about delegation that this blog series could answer.

Let’s explore delegation together and get practical and tactical on how we can improve our ability to do this well.

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center for Coaching Excellence.

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