Delegate Effectively: Extend Presence Through Actions of Others

Become More Essential and Less Involved Using These Strategies

By Harvard Business Review
December 20, 2017

Leaders need to shift away from doing to leading, but that’s not easy. Here’s how to elevate your impact.

Early in your leadership career, you can get away with holding on to work, but sooner or later the toll of shrinking resources and increasing demands will catch up. Elevating your impact requires you to embrace an unavoidable leadership paradox: You need to be more essential and less involved.

To raise the ceiling of your leadership potential, you need to extend your presence through the actions of others. That means delegating.

Here are four strategies for doing so effectively:

Start with your reasons: When people lack understanding about why something matters and how they fit into it, they are less likely to care. But if you give them context about what’s at stake and how they fit into the big picture, then you increase personal relevance.

RELATED: Here Are Six Types of Tasks Leaders Can Delegate Immediately

Inspire commitment: People get excited about what’s possible, but they commit only when they understand their role in making it happen. Clarify the scope of each employee's contribution and carefully communicate all expectations.

Engage at the right level: It’s essential to stay involved, but the degree matters. You should maintain engagement levels sufficient for you to deliver the agreed-upon mix of support and accountability. Start by simply asking people what the right level of management is based on their style.

Practice saying "yes," "no" and "yes, if …": Carefully assess and learn to say "yes" only to those tasks that draw on your talent. For those requests that don’t align with your skill set, you can say "no" or "yes, if …,” immediately identifying other people who can help you accomplish the goal through their direct involvement.

Copyright 2017 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Leadership

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