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Delegation of Authority – How and Why Experienced Leaders Delegate Everything

Mitch Malone
Mitch Malone
April 18, 2022 · 5 min read
Delegation of Authority – How and Why Experienced Leaders Delegate Everything

Delegation of authority is one of the most critical components in the success of projects and business growth. The world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders learn early in their careers that delegating authority on tasks and projects puts you on track for faster results and profitability.

In this article I’ll take a look at why delegation is good for business, some of the biggest barriers to effective delegation of authority by managers and for employees, along with some tips on how to delegate authority more effectively.

Five Big Reasons Why Delegation of Authority Is Good Business

Let’s start with the most important reason to delegate authority – it’s good for business! For example, research by professor Thomas Hubbard at Northwestern University showed law firm partners who delegated work to associates earned 20% higher median salaries. In addition, top lawyers with even more skills to leverage made 50% more income.

In my experience working with many entrepreneurs, business owners and product teams, there are five big reasons why the delegation of authority is good for business:

  1. Income growth – numerous research studies show that effective delegation means higher profitability, higher income for professionals and bigger earnings for employees.
  2. Shared vision – delegating and sharing tasks creates synergy between teams and teammates, creating more capacity and increasing productivity.
  3. Management skills – delegation of authority is a proven way to develop management skills and experience with subordinates and employees.
  4. Knowledge sharing – delegation of authority enhances knowledge sharing up and down within teams and organizations, big and small.
  5. Teamwork – one of the best outcomes of delegation of authority is teamwork and a sense of shared success. There’s nothing more satisfying than a team win.

Before You Delegate Authority

A couple of quick ideas to position yourself to delegate authority more effectively. Start by taking stock of your own available time and where it’s best and most profitably used as a leader, owner or manager. Stop micromanaging.

Know your people, their capabilities and their potential to take on authority for projects and tasks. Next, set clear roles and goals so that subordinates understand what control they have to get the job done.

Make sure you have the resources, tools, technology, information and communication channels in place before you hand off a project. And then make these resources available for managers to utilize.

Barriers to Effective Delegation of Authority

Savvy managers will recognize their own challenges and barriers to delegating authority effectively. They also know that employees have some challenges when authority is delegated as well. Let’s look more closely at the barriers managers and employees each encounter with the delegation of authority.

Management Delegation Barriers

So what are the obstacles managers face when delegating authority? In my experience, the major management challenge in delegating authority is a lack of trust or confidence in your employees. Of course, the related question is – if you’re a great manager, why do you have employees you can’t trust to do the job or to accept authority on a project?

Former Chrysler Chairman and Ford Motor Company President Lee Iacocca once said, “I hire people brighter than me and then get out of their way.” That’s great advice for managers looking to delegate authority.

Ask yourself if you’re guilty of any of these four common barriers entrepreneurs and senior managers wrestle with when it comes to delegation of authority:

  • Trust – do you lack confidence in your employees’ capability to execute?
  • Competition – are you afraid a subordinate may do the job better than you?
  • Control – are you nervous about losing control or controlling the outcome?
  • Ego – is micromanaging and trying to maintain control of everything a result of your ego getting in the way?

As managers, entrepreneurs and business owners, it’s often a challenge to let go when we might be able to do a project faster, if not better, than an employee.

Employee Delegation Challenges

Managers aren’t the only ones with challenges regarding delegation of authority. Employees often feel unprepared, unclear or nervous about failure when accepting authority for tasks or projects. Communication and planning are the obvious antidotes to employee concerns.

Here are six ways to ensure smoother delegation of authority for tasks or projects to employees:

  1. clearly communicate the roles, goals, duties and expectations for the assignment
  2. give clear guidance on the employee’s authority for the project’s success but reinforce that, as a manager or business owner, you still have overall responsibility
  3. ensure they have the information, tools and resources to do what’s expected and get results
  4. set and confirm benchmarks to track progress for the task or project
  5. keep a clear channel of communication open with regular informal and formal updates on progress
  6. motivate by giving consistent feedback and reinforcing positive progress to build employee confidence.

If you’ve chosen your employees well and used your best management skills, your employees will grow in experience, confidence and capability, and you’ll achieve the results you want.

Final Thoughts

Apple CEO Steve Jobs had it right when he said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Jobs knew how to delegate by ensuring he had the right people to get results, and he recognized the value of knowledge sharing within his organization.

One of the biggest paybacks of delegating authority successfully is removing yourself as a roadblock. That opens the door within your organization to greater capacity, increased management depth, employee job satisfaction, and ultimately higher profitability. As well, by delegating authority, you may find yourself earning more money and having more time to play golf, travel, take up a new hobby, or spend extra time with your family.

Reach out to keep the conversation going on the value of the delegation of authority. If you enjoyed this post, check out more management tips and inspiration on our Insights blog. Need help with the success of your products or product teams? I’m easy to reach here.

© 2022 Mitch Malone.

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