Practical Tips on Delegation & Empowerment

freedom-empowerment

Josef Grunig on Flickr

My most popular post over time has always been Delegation vs Empowerment. This is such an important topic, not just for getting work done, but for the raising up of more leaders. Good delegation allows you to discover emerging leaders. Quality empowerment results in the making of a leader. For this post, I want to focus on practical ideas in actually delegating to or empowering someone.

1. Whenever possible meet in person. Never delegate or empower others using email or other social media. Sit down face to face and make it a human transaction. This will add positive weight to the time and allow for better discussion.

2. In delegation you want to define the task, clarify expectations, and help determine the methodology. Delegation is about shouldering the load. Delegation is primarily about handing off critical tasks that need to be accomplished. You will need to define the “what”¬†and the “how.” This is an opportunity to discover potential leadership and prove faithfulness.

3. In empowerment you want to clarify the direction, grant decision-making authority, provide necessary resources, and evaluate progress. Empowerment is about giving power and authority away. Empowerment is about letting people lead. You will need to define the “where” and leave the “what” and the “how” largely up to them. This is an opportunity to honor past faithfulness and reveal leadership capacity.

4. In both cases connect their contribution to the greater vision of the organization. So often leaders delegate and empower in a vacuum. Don’t assume that people can make the connection of what you have asked them to do to the ultimate benefit of the cause. Tell them. Show them. Make it clear. You have a better chance of getting a person’s best efforts if you help them see their clear contribution.

5. Give them a vision for their lives. People long for purpose. People long to matter and contribute out of who they are. Explain to them why you chose them for this next step. Point out specific skills, gifts, and abilities that they possess that will make a difference in what you are asking them to do. Point them to something bigger than the task or effort at hand. You will gain their heart and not just their hands.

Delegation and empowerment takes thoughtful reflection. You must take time to consider which person is right for the task or effort at hand. You must take some more time to carefully think through how you will communicate the five principles above. It may be more important how you communicate than what you communicate. Communicate value and worth. Don’t simply settle for expedience.

What are your thoughts? What have you learned about the art of delegation and empowerment?

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  1. Great post here. Not sure why not too many comments. Indeed, delegation and empowerment are well known but put it in practice reveals sometime obstacles. One of them if the measurement or what to do if you have the feeling the key objectives is not on track?

    • Thanks so much Jack for you comments. Great question. I think delegation or empowerment still requires good accountability–first to agreed upon objectives and goals–and secondly to the overall development of that leader. So some times of regular feedback are essential. This would provide the fertile ground for discussion about how things are going and the use of measurements as objective tools to keep a project on track or provide helpful areas for further leader development.

  2. Indeed, delegation and empowerment are well known but put it in practice reveals sometime obstacles. One of them if the measurement or what to do if you have the feeling the key objectives is not on track?