Leadership: Delegate Or Die – Douglas E. Castle



Leadership: Delegate Or Die
One Of the Most Important Responsibilities Of A Leader Is To Delegate Responsibility


To be a leader and to maintain a position of leadership, you must be a competent and efficient delegator. By the act of delegating, you are not relinquishing control – you are actually expanding the realm and scope of your control. The larger the responsibilities and the larger the organization, the more proficient you must be at delegation.

In the military, “delegation” is defined as the action by which a commander assigns part of his or her authority commensurate with the assigned task to a subordinate commander. While ultimate responsibility cannot be relinquished, delegation of authority carries with it the imposition of a measure of responsibility. The extent of the authority delegated must be clearly stated.

Your success at delegation will determine the strength and length of your reign as a leader and commander. The most significant insights and skills which are required in successful delegation are listed below. They are worth studying:

=> If you are obsessive-compulsive by your nature, do all that you can to rationally counterbalance this dangerous impediment to effective delegation. You cannot micromanage and be a leader. You cannot be the servant of your subordinates because you are insistent about things being done exactly as you would have them done;

=> You must constantly keep the big picture and the broader focus in mind. If you are a perfectionist and overly detail-oriented, you will never be able to attain your organizational objectives while mired in minutiae;

=> Understand all of your responsibilities, and itemize or componentize each of them. You’ll find that each individual component can be delegated (as it must) to someone in your organization whom you can select. If the right individual is not among your inventory of Human Assets, then you must either replace some of your people, or your must acquire some new members with the requisite skill sets. The objective is to export as many of your responsibilities as possible, while retain the central responsibility of organizational stewardship, oversight and goal attainment;

=> When you delegate responsibility for the accomplishment of a task or function, also remember to grant the requisite authority and to impose the necessary accountability to the person to whom you’ve charged with the job. Responsibility without authority is a recipe for managerial impotence and non- performance. Responsibility without accountability is a recipe for waste, abuse and failure;

=> Since you, as a leader, are ultimately responsible for the successful and efficient attainment of your organization’s most important goals, you must constantly monitor the performance of those to whom you’ve delegated, without being drawn in to correcting their mistakes yourself. Observe, measure, suggest, monitor and determine whether the subject task has been assigned to the right individual; sometimes a change may be warranted.

=> Where you observe leadership potential in some of those persons to whom you’ve delegated tasks, you may find it wise to increase their roster or responsibilities, but to also grant them greater authority to sub-delegate to others who are subordinate to them. Remember that the greatest leaders know how to identify and cultivate leadership within their organizations. Be aggressive and bold about identifying and leveraging the leadership talents of other leaders within your organization. Encourage leadership and acceptance of increased responsibility. Reward it and give it appropriate recognition. Empowering other leaders liberates you to be a greater leader yourself.

=> As you develop leaders and assign them to their respective specialty areas (not unlike fiefdoms within a kingdom), clearly identify where each one’s territory begins and ends. Clearly define their responsibilities with minimal overlap. Keep your subordinate leaders separated from each other (unless you are present and orchestrating or conducting a meeting or hearing reports) – fiefdoms should not compete, but neither should their feudal lords unite, lest they undermine the king’s leadership. 

In brief, don’t permit your subordinates to take you over. Delegate, but do so without ever permitting your absolute command from being undermined. Keep your emerging leaders separated from each other, and even instill a competitive spirit amongst them to ‘fight’ for your approval.

As always, thank you for reading me. 

Douglas E Castle 

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