Delegate means to entrust. Abdicate means to renounce. These concepts are clearly not the same thing. Leaders don’t empower / delegate and then walk away from the responsibility. No way! Leaders are still on the hook. But practically speaking, leaders can’t do everything so delegating responsibility is a necessity. Done well, delegating is also a great way to improve execution, capacity and engagement.
Define the problem correctly for your team
Effective delegation requires a common starting point. All parties need to have a common definition of the challenge or problem. “Fix it” won’ work if you don’t agree on what “it” is. Investing time in an upfront discussion of the problem everyone is trying to solve gives the person and team a fair shot at succeeding.
Define the outcome expected to guide the result
You can enhance your chances of success by spending time on the expected outcome. Describe what success might look like for the people you are delegating to and make sure they have a good grasp of the targeted result. Then, get out of their way and let them use their energy, skills, creativity and judgments to get it done.
Test for evidence along the way that the progress is real, or not
Delegate; but don’t abandon ship and god forbid don’t micromanage. Strike a balance between the two by guiding the results with simple questions that require objective answers like yes or no. Test for evidence that your team is on the right track and if they aren’t, help them correct their course by restating the problem and desired outcome. Informal conversations or formal reviews can get you to the same place, completely dependent upon your style.
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