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Giving the Gift of Delegation All Year Round

A 2015 Gallup study of the entrepreneurial talents of 143 CEOs on the Inc. 500 list showed that companies run by executives who effectively delegate authority grow faster, generate more revenue, and create more jobs. Although delegation is linked to several positive outcomes, it is a top skill that many leaders struggle with and frequently need coaching on. Given that many of these leaders do not have the best delegation role models, they wrestle with determining what to delegate, how to delegate, and to whom.

What Is Delegation?

Delegation is the transfer of responsibility for specific tasks from one person to another. It can save time, enhance participation, boost motivation, and build the confidence of junior employees. However, nothing good comes easy. This invariably requires time, effort, and patience. Leaders must keep in mind that a one-size-fits-all approach is detrimental for the delegation process. Before making a final decision, it is worth taking time out to deliberate on the situation and the task involved when determining the appropriate delegation level to implement and the right person suited for the delegated task.

The Six Levels of Delegation

With delegation, situational leadership is your ally. Try to be adaptable, flexible, and choose a leadership style that best suits the situation. Walk the fine line of being involved but do not micromanage. Delegate tasks and schedule regular check-ins to keep abreast of how things are going. This allows for support in a timely manner if a situation arises.

Level 1: Do as I say

Level 2: Look into this and tell me what you think. Then I’ll decide.

Level 3: Give me recommendations, pros, and cons. I’ll let you know the best way forward.

Level 4: Explore and decide yourself, but wait for my approval.

Level 5: Decide and act. Let me know what you did.

Level 6: Decide and act. There’s no need to check with me.

Tips on How to Delegate
Allow for Failure

It is through failure that we learn and grow. Also, it allows for experimentation, creativity, and innovation when delegates feel that failure will not be held against them.

Deliver (and Ask for) Feedback

In addition to monitoring progress, deliver feedback to employees after the delegated tasks have been complete. If the employee did an excellent job, praise them and be specific on what they did well. If there is room for improvement, provide constructive criticism.

Utilize radical candor during delegation. Radical candor is providing guidance and feedback while hitting that right balance of caring and challenging.

To continuously improve upon delegation skills, it is important to always ask for feedback. Ask delegates what is working.  Are there clear instructions? What could be better?

Play to the Employees’ Strengths and Goals

Delegate tasks to fit employees’ goals and strengths. For example, if Amy has a goal of improving her PowerPoint presentations but she is good at content development, she could be a perfect person to delegate the task of creating a slide deck on time management. In short, delegate tasks that leverage employees’ strengths but also gives them opportunities to work on areas for improvements. It also helps them stay engaged and motivated.

Define the Desired Outcome

Again, clarity is crucial. What is the vision for the assigned task? What is the desired outcome? How does this task impact the goals of the organization? Let employees know the deadline, metrics, what, and why behind the task.

By Shirley Godwin, M.S.


Baker, T. (2014, August) The Leader’s Journey- Understanding the 6 Levels of Delegation [Post]. LinkedIn.

Blake, J. (2017). How to Decide Which Tasks to Delegate. Harvard Business Review Press.