The delegating leadership style is a style of leadership where a group leader assigns projects or assignments to their employees and gives them free reign to work.
The employee(s) get to make all decisions and choices, which they are then responsible for.
The delegating leadership style came about in the 60’s. Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard explained it as “handing off responsibility from a leader to a worker”.
As the years have gone on more people have started using the delegating leadership style and have seen varying ranges of success.
The key is to start out slow and build up both your delegating abilities and your employee’s ability to take on the responsibilities.
Start out small – delegate one of your employees a task that isn’t of high important and see how it goes.
If it turns out well then keep going, if not, this article covers:
- the definition of delegation
- tips to help ease your team into your delegating leadership style.
Delegation is the act of assigning a responsibility, often in the form of a task, to a lower-level employee.
For example, managers often delegate tasks to those who work under them, like their assistants, so that they can focus on different initiatives.
Delegating Leadership Style Tips
1. Make Sure Your Team Is Ready For The Responsibility
A big part of delegation is being able to trust that everyone on your team can take on the responsibility and can make their own decisions.
Some leaders believe in the helicopter leadership approach: watching over every little detail that their team is doing and holding their hand every step of the way.
This probably isn’t you. Maybe you’re more laid back or you have trust in the people you work with, both are great, but if your workers are also that way you might run into some problems.
Try It Out: Assign a project to your team and delegate every task to them. Make sure they know you have complete faith in their ability to complete the task. Then when the due date roles around see what has been accomplished; are they done? Has everyone finished what they were assigned?
Is it top grade work or does it look sloppy and finished at the last minute? If it all looks great and there are no problems then Bravo! Your team responded well to a delegation leadership style.
2. Set Solid Deadlines
Make sure your team knows exactly when each component of their project is due. As a supervisor, set up point A and point B.
Allow your employees to get their as they deem fit.
Try It Out: Set up a meeting with everyone in you group and lay out all due dates. If it’s your first time try making a schedule for them to follow, a visual spread sheet or checklist will give your team something to hold on to and be able to refer back to if necessary. Also set up reminders for them in either an email, office memo, ect. They will probably still be adjusting so a little help from you, as their leader, will be reassuring. This will also help them manage their time.
3. Explain Everything You Can Right Away
When your teaching someone to swim you don’t just throw them into the deep end without any instructions. The same goes for delegation leadership style; you can’t just expect your team to know exactly what you want from them.
You must explain everything you want out of the project they are doing to the best of your ability: A Blue Print or Loose Frame Work. That way they will have a jumping off point, which will let their creativity fuel the project from that point on.
Try It Out: Make a list of everything you can think of that will help your workers with this project. Provide any links you think will be helpful, set up a minimum and maximum of words, minutes, ect. if that applies to what they are doing, and most importantly give them the key terms and ideas for the project.
These can range from a working a title of what they are doing, to explaining exactly why they are doing it and why it’s important to the project over all. Remember if something new comes up tell your team right away, they won’t be able to make changes or adjust their ideas if they don’t know what you know.
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4. Keep an Open Door and An Open Mind
Although you are a leader you are still part of the team. Make sure your workers know that and are able to come to you with any questions, concerns, or just to bounce ideas off of you.
Try It Out: Tell your team right away that if they want to talk to you at all or have any problems with their assignment they can come to you any time. Establish an open door policy where they can come to you and you will be willing to help them with anything; remember that they might not always know what they are doing, and more likely you have an answer or a solution.
If a team member comes in to your office with an idea, don’t shut it down right away.
Listen to what your team member is saying and really think about it.
The delegating leadership style allows your workers to built their own path, and part of that is allowing them to have a voice in the process.
What they come up with might be different but it also might be brilliant.
5. Set Up Project Check In’s
Allowing free reign is a big part of the delegating leadership style. However, you still need to know that the work is being accomplished.
This is why setting up Project check in’s are so important. This will keep both you and your workers and on a cohesive timeline.
Try It Out: In addition to establishing due dates, establish check-in points. At each check-in, determine milestones that you expect to be met.
Make sure to actually look at what’s been accomplished, give constructive criticism, and set up a list of next action items.
The more often you do this, the less you will need to check in on employees.
Step Number Six: If Something Is Going Wrong Take Action
Remember, you are still in charge.
If you see something isn’t right, whether it’s unfinished work or errors, step in.
Try It Out: If this is your first time using a delegating leadership style, keep an eye on what your team members are working on. If it looks like they might not finish in time or have lost focus, step in to offer a hand.
If something does goes wrong and you aren’t able to finish in time, don’t put the blame on your team. Put together a constructive plan to resolve the roadblocks that got in your way.
So you’ve completed you first task using a delegating leadership style?
If your Team responded well to delegating leadership style, then you can give your employees more responsibility!
They might even ask to take on more responsibility or come up with new and exciting ideas for you and your business.
If the project didn’t turn out so well, don’t get discouraged. If you believe in the delegating leadership style then keep trying!
Delegate little things along the way and build up to bigger responsibilities.
Implementing the delegating leadership style
We’re here to help!
If you want to make the transition to a delegating leadership style as smooth as possible, check out Priority Matrix.
Priority Matrix provides tools for both you and your employees to use and help out with the tips discussed above. You can set up due dates, upload files, ask or answer questions using the comments feature.
Priority Matrix allows you to see what your employees are doing & how much progress they’ve made without having to ask them. Our project status reports take this one step further by providing graphics overviews.
For an in depth overview of delegating and communicating with your team, check out this video: