Leadership roles often come with expectations to deliver results. As an individual gets more comfortable in a particular area of leadership, they begin to see more things that need to be done so that progress can be made. Since leaders tend be driven and motivated individuals, they wind up putting pressure on themselves to deliver excellence.

Excellence should be the standard of execution for the leader. But at what cost? Should the leader expect to do everything? Is it appropriate for the leader to make sure they do it all?

The correct answer is no. Leaders ought to be focused on developing those around them. Some mistakingly equate leadership with power, control, and a long task list. Instead of assuming the necessity for involvement in every aspect of the work, a great leader instead looks for ways to delegate.

Why would a leader delegate, especially since that increases the likelihood that someone else may get the credit? Focusing on the success of the organization is the leader’s primary goal, not career advancement and resume building. Great leaders look for ways to better leverage the people resources around them towards a desired future.

Delegating is not easy, and it is often not the natural response. Here are four ways that can help you clarify what and how you should delegate your work:

1. Define This step is first for an obvious reason: nothing else matters if this isn’t done. Delegation doesn’t mean word vomit. Too many leaders simply dump their responsibilities onto others and call it “delegation.” Instead, work to define what you need done and the desired outcomes. It is OK to define a particular process too, but realize that this may change as the individual owns the task. Remember: clarity and simplicity reign supreme.

2. Decide Once the work has been done to define what you need, then decide who is the best person to delegate to. If you cannot think of the appropriate person to do the work, then ask yourself this: “Whose talents seem like a natural fit for this work? Who would have the easiest time doing this with the least amount of direction?” There’s your answer.

3. Delegate Now you must actually give the work away to someone else, but be incredibly intentional about this step. State the overall goals, the desired outcomes, deadlines, and any other pertinent information. You cannot be too clear or simple here.  

4. Develop Give guidance as necessary, and ask how you can continue to support the person with the task you’ve delegated. Avoid the tendency to be an overbearing micromanager. Instead, act like a coach. Come alongside the person and encourage them to do their best work. This approach is far more beneficial.

Make sure you have a system in place that allows you to easily track all of the tasks and projects that you have delegated to others. This could be a running list in Evernote or a portion of your task manager, but use something. Delegation never means “set it and forget it.”

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