In any organization or industry, effective leaders share a common skill: they all know how to delegate tasks in order to maximize results. Startup founders, for instance, don’t try to tackle everything as they take their business forward. A Salt Lake City IT entrepreneur knows that focusing their efforts on systems design will be the best use of their time; they delegate or outsource the payroll services and accounting to those with the requisite expertise. Anybody in a leadership position can benefit from this skill – here are three steps to improve.
Have a system
In any endeavor, having even a rudimentary plan will increase the chances of getting the desired results. This may not matter much for something like a recreational project, but when managing people at work or driving a business forward, the consequences are real; wasted time and opportunities are costly. While there may be margin for error, a lot of mistakes can be avoided by forming a system for prioritization at the outset. This way, a leader can decide what tasks should remain under their personal responsibility, and which ones can be handed over to others.
Determining priority often comes down to which tasks really require a leader’s expertise and direct involvement, as well as the time-sensitivity or critical nature of the results involved. A good system can also go further and identify potential candidates for any given assignment, based on their individual strengths, skills, goals, and bandwidth. After all, identifying the right person to take on a specific job can have the most significant influence the outcome of a venture.
Learn to step back
While it can be surprising how a lot of people actually appreciate mentors and supervisors being tough on them, you probably won’t find anyone who likes being micro-managed. One is constructive, the other is suffocating; having a boss constantly looking over your shoulder and telling you what to do, or how to do it, isn’t helpful for growth, and implies a lack of trust.
Leaders may have good intentions when insisting on control, but letting go is necessary if delegation is to serve any purpose. Every team member needs to feel empowered in order to perform to the best of their ability. While some level of instruction is to be expected, it should only serve to clarify and facilitate skill transference; too much direct involvement will only lead to confusion. People want growth; a good leader will let them fail and learn in the process, finding the right balance of intervening only when needed.
Monitor and adjust
People and organizations are organic; they evolve in different ways over time. After a couple of years on the job, an employee won’t have the same skillset or goals as they did when starting. In the same way, the nature of a business or institution might change over time; aspects which were once delegated might now have become crucial opportunities for leadership intervention, while up-and-coming team members may have developed sufficient maturity and expertise to take over some tasks which had previously been part of the leader’s core responsibilities. Using feedback loops, monitoring and verifying results will help determine which jobs are being delegated with good results, and inform decisions when it comes to making changes and putting another person in charge when things haven’t been working out.
Leaders don’t delegate in order to relax, but to get jobs done well by the best people available. Focus on these aspects and you can apply this skill to succeed in many endeavors at work and in life.