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Mastering Delegation: How Leaders Can Overcome Busyness and Build Trust

Some best practices for letting go.
Joshua Koszalkowski
Contributing Writer

Leaders often struggle with excessive busyness due to a reluctance to delegate. This hesitation to hand off tasks can stem from concerns for direct reports or a desire to uphold personal standards. However, an overemphasis on these traits can lead to negative outcomes. Trust plays a pivotal role in this dynamic, with a lack of willingness to delegate often reflecting a lack of trust.

Why it matters: When leaders learn to let go, trust, and give their teams greater responsibility, exceptional things can happen. One of the outcomes is more freedom for leaders, allowing them to have some breathing room and focus their efforts on more critical initiatives. To build stronger bonds of trust and better delegate, leaders can utilize a few best practices.

  • When delegating work to a direct report, it’s necessary to set the context and discuss both the future state and the current state of the situation at hand. By having an explicit conversation around context, you will improve trust because an explicit shared commitment to a purpose lowers the risk a leader could feel around delegating.
  • Regular, ongoing communication is key when it comes to delegating and should be a two-way dialog so that the leader is always aware of the status of the work and can provide input in a timely manner.
  • Leaders can establish constraints when delegating to be clear about what’s necessary, what’s nice to have, and what’s off-limits.
  • Coaching is also important when delegating work as it helps employees work through the pressure to perform and subsequently increase their self-confidence. Leaders create operating leverage through the coaching practices of offering regular guidance, developing skills, and collaboratively solving problems, thus lowering the perceived risk when delegating.

Go Deeper —> Are You A Not-So-Great Delegator? – Chief Executive

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