“Show me a leader who doesn’t delegate, and I’ll show you a business that hasn’t grown”.
This statement may seem bold; however, in most cases, it’s true. Delegation is the key to the growth of a business and its people.
This leadership style allows leaders to give their employees greater freedom to make decisions. They can give more control and power to their team. They might delegate tasks to a few managers or give each employee the ability to guide their own work. While leaders won’t participate in every decision, they still check in, provide necessary resources, and bear overall responsibility for the outcome.
What is necessary for this leadership style to succeed?
Delegative leadership is primarily hands-off and can only be successful when there is complete trust between a leader and their employees.
- Letting Go
Leaders must refrain from micromanaging tasks and allow team members to rely on their own judgment for the best actions and strategies.
Team members must be consistently reliable and able to take responsibility for the work that they present.
- Open and Honest Communication
This is essential on both sides. Team members should be aware they can still reach out if necessary.
The Benefits of Delegative Leadership
There are considerable benefits of delegation leadership, for example, when your team adapts to a hands-off approach where they have as much influence on a project as everyone else.
- It prevents burnout
It reduces supervisors’ and managers’ workloads, freeing them up for other responsibilities. Instead of leaders overworking, individuals are empowered.
- Improves employee satisfaction
Team members can exercise their individual talents and make decisions about their work. This flexibility often has a positive impact on company culture.
- Conveys Trust
The amount of trust required means that employees feel valued. This increases the relationship between team members and leaders.
- Saves Time
Team members can apply solutions as soon as issues develop without waiting for approval from supervisors. It also minimises meetings and training sessions.
- Fosters Growth
It can encourage individuals to take on more responsibility. It can also prepare them to take on leadership roles later in their career.
- Promotes Creativity and Innovation
Having the opportunity to show initiative and work independently can foster creativity and innovation within a company.
The act of passing a task or responsibility on to someone else may seem straightforward enough, but it can be very challenging for both leaders and team members.
Challenges to Delegative Leadership
- It can lower productivity
Some individuals may not know how to handle their time or may not understand the company’s expectations. To combat this, leaders should invest in extensive training to ensure all staff can complete their tasks without supervision.
- May cause confusion
Some individuals may not fully understand their responsibilities or who they can ask for help. Leaders can avoid confusion by creating open channels of communication, developing a clear chain of command, and working closely with junior leaders.
- Can undermine accountability
When employees know the ultimate responsibility lies with the leader, it can affect accountability. To avoid this, leaders should create a system of regular check-ins with employees and provide a clear system of expectations.
- Slows adaptation
When each employee uses a distinct method to complete their work, it can be difficult to adapt to changing processes. Leaders should consider implementing a set of best practices for all employees, regardless of their work style.
- May lessen cohesion
While certain individuals may excel, it can create a fragmented workplace and prevent employees from working towards a common goal. Leaders can combat this by encouraging collaboration and by creating team projects.
Who is getting it right?
A shining example of a Delegative Leader is Agostina Pechi, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs. New York. A highly successful Hispanic woman who has climbed to the top in her field advises an open-door policy — “it’s essential to be open to your team member’s suggestions, concerns and feedback. For example, I implement a weekly email follow-up or in person catch up just to give some cadence to our interactions. So, I don’t wait until they come to me with an issue or progress”.
Tips for Delegative Leadership
Delegate early & often: don’t overload yourself – delegate!
Set clear goals & milestones: set specific goals and milestones rather than giving long-term unattainable ones without concrete dates.
Consider hiring a personal assistant: – hire an assistant who knows your preferences/skills to handle administrative tasks!
Allocate assignments accordingly: everyone will have opportunities without being overloaded. Delegate fairly across the board based on the strengths of members of your team, their skill sets, and interests.
“Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; get out of the way.”
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