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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Three of the Most Common Delegation Ah-ha's


One of the biggest shifts that most rising leaders have to make is the shift from being the go-to person to someone who builds teams of go-to people. As you take on more and more scope in your leadership role, you can’t continue to operate as the go-to person who acts as if you’re personally responsible for everything that happens. You need to be accountable and own the results but you can’t expect yourself to do everything that leads to the results.

That, of course, means that you need to be really effective at delegation. Unfortunately, a lot of leaders aren’t that good at it. Too often, they delegate something to a team member and it doesn’t get done well, or on time or at all. One of the big reasons this happens is because too many leaders take a “one size fits all” approach to delegation. As I’ve written here before, effective delegation needs to be custom-fit to the people involved and the tasks that need to be accomplished.

That might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t really have to be. For several years now, I’ve been teaching the executives in our leadership development programs how to use a simple delegation checklist I came up with called TRACK™. Using the TRACK checklist, a leader can come up with a really clear picture on how to custom fit the delegation by considering:

  • The what’s and why’s of the Task
  • How to make a clear delegation Request
  • What full Achievement would look like
  • The depth and frequency of Check-in’s needed along the way
  • The Knowledge and Kudos that should be gained and shared as a result of the work

Given time to think about and practice their delegation techniques, the leaders I work with come up with some pretty big ah-ha’s about what would make them more effective in sharing the work with their teams. Here are three of the most common delegation ah-ha’s:

A little bit of prep goes a long way. Going through the TRACK checklist only takes around five minutes and creates a set of talking points for an effective delegation conversation and plan. Most of the leaders I work with are surprised by how much value there is taking five to 10 minutes to think through a delegation conversation rather than just jumping into it.

It’s not about me. When they practice their delegation conversations with some peers, many leaders are surprised and a little chagrined to hear how much they’re talking about themselves in the conversation. (As in, “This is why this is important to me,” or “I need you to do this.”) The leaders who have ninja-level delegation skills are the ones who tune into “you” (As in “Here’s what you could get out of this assignment,” or “What questions do you have?”)

Check-ins reduce anxiety and micromanaging. A lot of leaders are reluctant to delegate because they’re afraid they won’t have all the answers when they get the pop quiz from their boss about what’s going on with a project. Most of the leaders I work with are finding that being clear up front with the person they’re delegating to about the depth and frequency of the check-in process alleviates the urge to micromanage and the anxiety behind it. It also makes it much less likely that they’re going to drive their team members crazy.

Which element of the TRACK delegation checklist do you think needs the most attention? What have been some of your big ah-ha’s about effective delegation?

(Image via Dragon Images/Shutterstock.com)

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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