How Leaders Delegate

How Leaders Delegate



Great leaders understand that it’s the team that does the work and achieve success.  The leader isn’t the individual who is capable of doing everything.  Delegating work isn’t as simple as telling others what to do.  It definitely isn’t as simple as dividing the work evenly and sending it off.  There’s an art to it that, when done right, everyone succeeds.  How leaders delegate work will dictate the success of the team.

Leaders have followers.  If a leader doesn’t have followers, then he/she is not a leader.  You’re not a leader if there’s no one is following you.  You’re just you.  Once you are a leader, you must recognize that work distribution is important.  You can’t do everything yourself.  You will suffer miserably if you try.  I learned this lesson well early in my career. 

When you delegate work, that doesn’t mean you’re lazy.  Delegating work means that you recognize the need for team work and that you understand how to utilize your team efficiently.  But how you delegate the work matters.  Done carelessly and it can be interpreted that you’re simply lazy and don’t want to do any work yourself. 

You’ve likely have already delegated work in the past.  Some may have gone very well and some may have missed it’s marked.  For better results, consider the following next time you’re considering how to delegate the work you have on your plate.

  1. Skills – Not all task and jobs are equal. The same applies to the members you have working with you.  Before you decide who to delegate work to, you must consider and understand the individual skills of your members.  You definitely don’t want to delegate work to someone who doesn’t have the adequate skills to perform the job.

  2. Current workload – Employee’s health and capacity to do their jobs are important. Overloading them can lead to health issues as well as job dissatisfactions.  In addition, if you’re delegating too much work to any individual, they may not be able to complete the job you’ve assigned or may complete it poorly.  Understand if they are able to handle the work beyond just the skills.

  3. Seniority – As you delegate work, you definitely want to avoid favoritism. However, you can make considerations such as seniority preference.  But make it publicly know so that it doesn’t result in rumors.

  4. Challenge – When you’re determining who are capable of doing the job you need, consider those who are close. You should regularly delegate work to those who may not have all the skills or experience to complete the job, but are close.  Give them the challenge and opportunity to test themselves and learn.  This will keep your team engaged and focused on improving themselves.

  5. Clarity – Delegating work isn’t just throwing assignments over the wall and expecting it to come back completed. Be clear about your expectations on how and when you want it to be completed.  Understand that some may need more explanation and guidance than others.  Be clear or be disappointed.

  6. Empower – While you’re delegating work to your teams, allow them the possibility to delegate those work down even further to their teams. Able to have a team who can delegate efficiently will only allow you to accomplish more.

  7. Who – One of the thing you must recognize is who you’re delegating the work to. Beyond the skills and the workload, does the individual have a history of taking on the work and executing it willingly?  Or does the individual shows displeasure in receiving the work.  Motivation matters and delegating the right jobs to the right individual can be more impactful.

  8. Trust – I say delegating work is like leaving your child with a babysitter. Sometimes you worry and are unsure how it will turn out when it returns to you.  Trust in your team is very important.  You must show them that you have trust in them to do the job well.  Then, when you delegate the work to them, they will feel motivated to complete with quality.


Delegating work isn’t new but it is something that we do with little consideration.  Take more time and care next time you delegate work.  The more thoughts you put into how you as a leader delegate work, the more success you will have. 



Photo by: Sora Shimazaki

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