Business Growth

How to Delegate to Elevate (part 2)

The “How” of Delegation

This is part 2 of the delegation conversation. If you haven’t already, you may want to read Part 1 – Delegate to Elevate – the “Why” and Underlying Attitude first.  This blog answers the benefits (why) of delegation and Part 2 explores how.

I wrote in So You Think You Can Lead? that leadership is our responsibility before privilege. We approach delegation from how we can elevate the delegated. It might relate to their skills, capacities and sometimes their place in the community.

Delegating creates a win-win. The clear win for the delegator is to share and distribute work responsibilities and the win for the delegated is to develop and elevate their skills and grow as a person and professional.

While some tasks are just a way of sharing the responsibilities, more often than not, it is our opportunity to grow the person.

When there is a clear win for the delegated as well, there is a greater quality in the outcomes.

This is in clear contrast to the “other” approach.

I don’t have time for this or I want someone else to do it.

This ‘off my pile’ approach can be extremely counter-productive. You may be a manager or supervisor but not a leader that earns respect and admiration with this approach.

From this approach of ‘delegate to elevate’, we discuss the process.

In part, it is your own process as a delegator and in part, it is your communication with the delegated.

1. Start with why this project/task needs to be done.

What is the value of this new task and project for the team? How will this serve your community, be it your team, organization or family?

Let’s take the example of creating a product catalogue. The value of this project is to offer more attractive options to your clients and increase revenue for your business.

Who is best suited to manage the project – for now, and in the future as well?

Once the project is completed, the delegated will have gained new skills and gained experience. It is more efficient if it is the same person who will manage it in the future as well.  Let’s say for our example that the person best suited for this project is Dave.

Can he/his team handle the project without getting overloaded?

Does he have all the basic skills required to complete the project successfully? What skills will he gain from this new project? In other words, how are we elevating his skills, hence his place in the team through this project?

2. Define the desired outcome

What is the outcome of the task or project? The desired outcome could be an attractive product catalogue that is fully updated with new items and new prices.

After establishing the why and project outcome, you may ask Dave: “What do you think of the project?” His buy-in is important in order to produce quality work.

Then, you may ask: “What would the final product look like?” – always start with the end in mind.

This is an opportunity to establish your collective expectation of the project and the desired outcome.

Have you been shocked at an outcome that was totally different than your expectation?  In order to avoid this common mistake, it’s best that the desired outcome is well established in advance.

3. Ensure adequate resources

Then, follow with the question, “What would the process look like from a big picture perspective?” This generally reveals the delegatee’s resources.

If training is necessary, it is important to recognize and provide this at an earlier stage of the project.

Often, the delegatee may not know what they don’t know until they have started the project.

“When will you be able to start the project and when is a good time to check in at the early stage of the project?”

4. Establish timelines

Normally there will be a delivery timeline, a starting timeline with check-ins along the way depending on how big the project is and how new this project is to the delegated.

5. Delivery and feedback

With adequate support with well-established outcomes and checking, the project should be delivered on time and meet expectations.

Feedback is highly important both for the team and the delegatee.

“What did you learn from this project?”

“What challenges did you overcome?”

“What are you most proud of?”

“What will you do differently next time?”


Delegation is less about shifting our work to someone, but rather an opportunity to elevate a team’s skill levels. More skills and capabilities of team members improve the productivity of the team overall and together we achieve greater success. The true benefit of this approach is about the delegatee. Quality individuals want to grow and develop themselves and contribute to the community they serve. Their sense of worth and value is a far greater cause for staying with an employer/team than money and titles.   

Do you remember the first time you were asked by your parents to look after something important – your first ‘delegation’?  How old were you? In completing this task, do you recall feeling proud?  I remember the first time I was asked to go to the store and pick up just one item by myself.  I was 6 and I couldn’t have been more thrilled.  It really is not so different for us as adults. Delegation done right, can really elevate our humanity as a whole.

So, if you need to delegate, do so to elevate.

Delegate to Elevate, on the mountain top Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw on Unsplash

Delegate to Elevate – the “Why” and Underlying Attitude

Some leaders have a challenge in delegating. Others delegate with no concerns. Which side are you on?  Although I am writing this blog to support entrepreneurs and business development, this blog is also applicable for many ‘every-day’ situations like a parent delegating clearning chores to their kids or a spouse delegating finance duties to their partner.

First, I wanted to write a bit more about the groups who delegate and those who don’t.

If you have the challenge of delegating, what might be the concerns?

Answers I hear frequently are twofold:

  1. Out of concern for others i.e. their workload
  2. Lack of trust in others’ capabilities to do the task. It is faster if I do it.

On the other side, those who have no challenge  delegating:

  1.  I’m too busy. I’ll give it to my minions. Phew, it is off my plate.
  2. I don’t like this specific task so I’ll give it away (doesn’t fit my aspirations or it’s simply too boring).

Yes, I am deliberately leaving out our well-intended reasons for delegation.  There are many of course.  And the not-so-positive intentions listed above can be addressed in one very broad, yet highly effective approach: 

Delegate to elevate your team's success

Delegate to elevate your team’s success

Start with the right attitude.  Delegate to elevate your team

‘Team’ here can be your work colleagues or outside work such as your family. The intention of delegating for the team’s elevation is in direct comparison to your own: if delegation is done to elevate your success or your interests, it may not be the best outcome in the long run. You won’t benefit from strong buy-in of a delegate nor being able to free up your time for more productivity.

On the other hand, if you delegate in order to elevate the team’s success, you accomplish the following:

  1. Building your team’s skill levels,
  2. Distributing the team’s work in a way that supports every member of the team,
  3. Empowering the team to achieve more together
  4. Fostering growth for each team member, which generally supports a stronger team.

With this attitude or approach, we create a multitude of wins:

We elevate our team’s skills. A colleague who wasn’t familiar with project management will now have a chance to grow thanks to the assigned task.  Delegation done right, it has now successfully elevated the colleague’s skill.

She is happy to have tackled her first project management assignment and learnt some important skills.

You now as a leader don’t have to do all of the project management in the future.

This allows you to spend time on business development that you may have been postponing for some time.

What’s the final outcome of all this?   The team’s overall success.

A leader who is concerned about her team’s workload and decides to manage a project herself  will miss out on building the team up the way the elevator-delegator leader was able to.

Delegation can be simply the distribution of work, which may not involve new learning. Well-distributed, however, the process will still elevate the team’s efficiencies and sense of value, as it is likely to position each member in the right (productive, useful, contributing) place.

Imagine a highly paid world-renowned soccer striker who is constantly asked to play defense. Is that a good use of his time and the team’s resources?

A $150/hour paid consultant spending many hours chasing documentation, which could be done by an administrative staff member at $18/hr is another good example of the work distribution not done right. Delegation of the work may improve the consultant’s productivity.

Who is best suited for this specific task in comparison to other tasks that also need to get done?

There is misplaced loyalty or team spirit when a director spends the majority of her time doing other people’s work but her own.

The question here is what important task you are not doing because you are doing another task that could be delegated in order to elevate the Steam’s success long-term.

One last thing to add here for solopreneurs or micro team operations:  delegation is available outside your organization.  It may manifest as a virtual assistant or in short-term contracts.  Reaching outside your organization supports a larger community while at the same time benefitting your productivity.

So what is a good effective process for delegating new tasks/projects to our teams?

The next blog discusses these steps.

Delegate to elevate, on the mountain top


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