Overwhelmed.  Frustrated.  Or both.

I sit across the table from leaders and hear these common refrains time and again. Either the comments are autobiographical or they are directed toward others:  their peers, team members, direct reports, the CEO.

“I have too much on my plate.”

“There is too much on the horizon.”

“So much is changing so rapidly in the marketplace, that I feel my brain can’t keep up!”

“They don’t move quickly enough.”

“The thinking isn’t right to meet our need right now.  They need to be focused on different things.”

“Where is the accountability: the sense of urgency?”

“Why can’t they think more strategically?”

Leaders at every level wrestle, in different ways, with these same questions:

  • What do I keep?
  • What do I give away?
  • How do I decide?

We need to choose wisely what to delegate and what to keep.  Deliberate Delegation.

When choosing which assignments to give and which to do, I recommend beginning with these 3 questions:

  1. Is the assignment too large for me to accomplish alone?
  2. Does this work present an opportunity to develop others?
  3. Can someone else do this better than I can?

If you answer “yes” to any one of these questions, the task is one that could be delegated.

The next step is to know if it should be delegated.

Once you know you could delegate something, you then need to assess if it is wise to delegate this particular task.  What is the risk? To capture the risk, ask the next two questions:

  1. How urgent is the task?
  2. How important is the task?
  • If something is Very Urgent and Very Important, proceed with caution.  You may not want to delegate this one, unless your team is seasoned and successful.
  • If something is Very Urgent but Not Important, it is a great task to give away to build skills on your team.
  • If something is Not Urgent but Very Important, you have time on your side.  This is a great opportunity to develop your team; building skills, trust, experience and confidence in their work and in their relationships with you and one another.

With these questions in mind, you can make an informed decision about what to keep and what to give away. This is where Deliberate Delegation actually begins. But what are the steps to the process of effective Deliberate Delegation? Check back next week to find out!