An elementary definition of management is “getting work done through others”. Yet, delegation seems to be a lost art. Peter Danby believes it’s time to set a new direction.
Delegation lies at the heart of both effective leadership and effective organizations. “Can delegate effectively” appears in almost every assessment of managerial competence that I have seen in the last 20 years. And delegation consistently gets the lowest scores. There are many reasons, of course – lack of time, fear of losing control, lack of trust in subordinates – but also lack of understanding what effective delegation really means or involves. All are poor excuses when weighed against the benefits of enhanced performance and the time and resources that effective delegation frees up.
Defining the principles of delegation, empowerment and high performance is straightforward; what is often missing is the means to apply them, a practical tool rather than vague concepts. I offer a process of delegation that addresses this concern. As well as clearly defining a task, this communication process can be used to inspire and encourage, to bring the right leadership to a situation, and to build strong relationships between a manager and his direct reports. It is a process that draws together threads from psychology and leadership, but it is built around a way of working that I experienced in the military, perhaps the fastest-changing and most hostile working environment of any organization. It can be used with individuals, within a team or throughout an organization to enhance efficiency and performance.
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