The Five Steps of Effective Delegation

If you’ve been following this delegation conversation, you’ll remember that every effective delegation must come with specific responsibility and authority. That’s why the Levels of Delegation are critical to delegation success.

With that in mind, it’s worth considering the best steps for an effective delegation.

Here are five steps you as a leader need to take when delegating any task or project:

1. Decide on the right person: This might go without saying, but to be sure: Not everyone is capable of every task. I’d hate for someone to delegate accounting to me. Previous bosses never did that, so I’m assuming they recognized my other abilities.

When you prepare to give away a job or task, consider what will be required and ensure the person you select has the innate skill and margin for success.

2. Specify the desired results: Read (or reread) the Levels of Delegation post. Defining the level defines the desired result.

3. Develop a timeline: This is an often missed step. The person on the other side of your delegation needs clarity on task and time. By time, I don’t mean, “this is important.” That’s not specific. Delegate with deadlines. If the job is multifaceted, define the timelines for each segment of the work.

“Develop” doesn’t mean dictate, though. Developing a timeline means you, as the leader, involve the person on the other side of the delegation input on the timeline. It’s unfair to expect someone to meet a deadline when they aren’t allowed input on the timeline.

4. Define the individual’s or team’s authority: Authority is critical to success. Please never give away a task or project without the necessary authority to finish the job. And don’t assume authority is assumed. Be clear that you are giving them the power needed for the delegated responsibility, especially in Level 3 or Level 4 delegations.

5. Remain available: No matter what the level of delegation, you should remain available to support the task or project. Don’t abdicate when you delegate. Remain engaged to help. That’s not micromanaging — that’s good leadership.

I know what some of you are feeling: This will be more frustrating than just doing it myself. Maybe. But what I do know is a lack of delegation brings much worse results than frustration.

Remember, the goal of successful delegation is neither to micromanage everything nor to abdicate your role completely, but to create personal margin, develop other leaders, and increase overall capacity and output.

The Four Levels of Delegation

No leader wants to be the lid for their organization, experience burnout from attempting to manage it all, and see their staff teams flee to better opportunities. However, leaders who are unwilling or unable to delegate will experience it all, and more.

If you’re unwilling to delegate, I can’t help you.

If you are unable, I’ve got great news: Leaders who learn to give away specific responsibility and authority unleash their organization and the leaders within.

To delegate well, leaders need to define versions of delegations. I call that the Levels of Delegation.

Here is a preview of the four levels. For all the details, click for the full article.

Level 1 – Investigation
Level 2 – Informed Progress
Level 3 – Informed Results
Level 4 – Ownership

The level approach to delegation automatically gives responsibility and authority clarity.

Trust me: Your team wants to those tasks and opportunities.

Three Inevitable Outcomes When Leaders Refuse to Delegate


Here’s a preview of part 1. Click to read all the details.

Leaders who are unable or unwilling to delegate to others destroy organizational and personal potential.

No leader does this on purpose, but without a clear delegation plan, the results are inevitable.

As an organization grows, so does the complexity and the need for capacity. No leader has enough ability to lead a growing organization alone indefinitely. A lack of delegation leads to unavoidable results:

1. Leadership burnout
2. Organizational stagnation
3. Staff departures

I assume you don’t want an organization small enough to be managed alone. I doubt you want your best leaders to find other organizations where they can thrive. And I know you don’t want to burn out along the way.

Not to oversimplify these leadership dilemmas, but delegation is a massive part of the answer.

9 Leadership Strategies to Avoid Becoming an Growth Barrier

Every leader hates growth barriers.

The internet is full of suggestions on breaking through barriers.

Some of these articles, blogs, and books are good. But too few focus on the leader as the barrier.


In this NEW ARTICLE, I outline 9 specific things leaders need to evaluate in light of allowing themselves to be a growth barrier.

Here’s the quick list, but you’ll want to read the article for the details:

1. Solicit feedback about your leadership — often.
2. Surround yourself with great leaders.
3. Systematically replace yourself.
4. Discover your real strengths.
5. Delegate more than you do.
6. Never lead What, How, or Who without Why.
7. Be a learner.
8. Work on your junk.
9. Swallow your pride.

I know you don’t want to accidentally become the growth lid. Give this a read and see if there’s an area where you could use a little more focus.

Talk soon.