How to Delegate Successfully

Every entrepreneur knows the power of duplication and leverage available though effective delegation. But few business owners understand how to make the process truly successful. Control freaks need to remember some basic facts about delegation.

The person to whom you are delegating any task or project should see it as an honor, a privilege, a step up, an award and a promotion, instead of a task that the boss is simply too lazy or too inept to take care of himself. The way a task is delegated should inspire and encourage the person to whom the project is being delegated. What is in it for them? How will they benefit from being delegated this work? What will they learn? How does this fit into their career path and personal goals? Why should they be excited at the prospect? These questions should be asked and answered before you even think of delegating anything.

Delegation is not a way out of responsibility. When you delegate a task or a process, you are still ultimately responsible for the outcome. It is not a way to escape accountability or find a scapegoat. With responsibility, comes authority. Give them leeway and authority. Theodore Roosevelt said, "The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." The person to whom the campaign is delegated should be carefully instructed, in writing, exactly why they are being delegated the work, what’s in it for them, what the parameters are of their authority, what the reporting system is, and what support I available to them, along with the timeframe and resources available. Communication and access on an ongoing basis is essential.

Give credit where credit is due. Andrew Carnegie said, “No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.” Be generous in your praise. Focus on what they’re doing right, not their mistakes. Allow them the freedom to fail and make mistakes. Motivate them, encourage them and be there for them. Help them. Don’t be too rigid – flexibility and patience encourages creativity and innovation. General Patton said, "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." Create champions. Use positive reinforcement. Praise and thank them in public.

The best leaders take the time to get to know the people to whom they delegate. They don’t try to force round pegs into square holes. They allow people to use their strengths. Never try to create a strength – rather use a strength. The right character type/personality style in the right place is a money machine. Compliment one person’s weakness with the strength of another. Be strategic in your delegation. And always be kind. But be clear and firm on the goals, the consequences and the rewards, Lead by example and remember that respect has to be earned.

Blaine Lee said, "The great leaders are like the best conductors - they reach beyond the notes to reach the magic in the players." Allow your people to be the best they can be. Help them grow and prosper. Zig Ziglar said, “You can get anything you want out of life if you’re prepared to help enough others to get what they want.” Bear that in mind when you next decide to delegate anything. The buck stops with you and you should never take the credit. By all means, inspect what you expect and keep your finger on the pulse, but don’t clip the wings of your eaglets. Finally, be strong enough to revoke a task when the person to whom you have delegated it consistently fails or shows lack of enthusiasm or ability. Business is about profit. In our politically correct, collectivist society, I believe a lot more people should be fired and everyone should work on a commission basis, starting with union workers, bureaucrats, and politicians. Reward people in direct proportion to their contribution and you will lose the losers and create a powerful, unstoppable team of winners.

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