I am a huge proponent of delegating. I push my clients and audience members to develop their staffs by providing them with opportunities and challenges to help them learn, leverage their innate talents, and hone new skills. However, I am not a fan of leaders ignoring their responsibilities when they delegate tasks to others. That's abdicating. That's not delegating.
Any manager who has attended a leadership workshop or read a book on supervision knows:
Effective managers delegate.
Managers who know this concept also know when they delegate work to their staffs, they should also transfer the authority to get the delegated tasks done. By doing this, managers are minimizing many of the roadblocks their staffs will run into as they work on the delegated tasks. By having the authority to take the necessary actions and acquire the necessary resources to get the work done, the employees can do the work they've been tasked to do. Perfect!
So why is it that a good number of seasoned managers incorrectly believe they've delegated their leadership responsibilities when they have delegated the authority to do the work? Why do so many managers believe once they delegate it, they can forget it? Again, that's abdicating. That's not delegating.
A manager recently shared with me, "My biggest issue is our absentee President/CEO. He's proud of himself because he 'delegates.' He's away attending conferences, seminars, or is on vacation at least one week a month. When he's here, he stays within the executive suite. He doesn't communicate with much of the staff and he rarely acknowledges staff from our branches and other offices. Because of this, he ignores our workflow issues, management challenges, and the myriad of other headaches we face. His new dog is doing well in the dog show circuit though..."
Delegating is moving work out to others on your team who should or could do the work given their positions, skill sets, availability, etc. It's leveraging the talent and production capabilities of your team and team members. However, to truly delegate, leaders need to take responsibility for clearing lingering roadblocks so the work can get done. Leaders need to continually take the pulse of the organization to identify where adjustments need to be made to enable the employees to do their tasks even more effectively.
Leaders need to stay engaged.
So how do you stay engaged as a leader? Communicate with all levels of employees to gauge the ease of communication they experience within their work worlds. Communicate with all levels of employees to clarify challenges they face in completing their tasks. Physically visit every facility, department, or branch regularly to again, connect with staff, but also to gauge the physical surroundings your team members work within and utilize. Assess the culture of each location to ensure it is consistent with the values and brand of your organization. Then, as the leader, fulfill your responsibility to address the issues, clear the roadblocks, and ensure your team can perform.
As the leader, you must delegate tasks to others. You cannot and should not do all the work yourself. However, as the leader, you need to retain the responsibility to create and maintain a work environment for your team to do the work being asked of them. You need to delegate. You cannot abdicate.