The One Secret to Being a Successful Leader

Let’s face it, leading people is hard. It can be very rewarding, but sometimes it’s messy. So if there is such a thing as a leader hack, delegation is the one secret you need to understand. If you can learn to properly delegate, it will change your world! Note the emphasis on “properly.” Delegation is not a dump and run game. When done correctly, it helps both the delegator, and the delegatee, grow. So how do you delegate properly? It’s fairly simple really. Let’s say you have a task you have done many times, and no longer have to think about how you get it done. This is a good time to consider delegating it to someone else, assuming it’s still necessary, and can’t be automated. If you don’t have the task documented, get it done before you assign it. The more detail you provide, the better. Remember the goal is to properly delegate and that won’t happen if you leave out details that might seem obvious to you, but not to the person who has never done it before. Once the documentation is ready, give it to the person you are assigning the task to and have them follow the documentation while you do the task. They should ask clarifying questions and making notes. The documentation needs to be updated to reflect the answers to those questions and to include any additional supporting information. Once both parties believe the documentation accurately reflects the process, the delegatee should perform the task, with the delegator present. This is the step that usually gets left out. Chances are the there will be additional questions, so why not have the person who can answer them available at this moment? When time is critical you don’t want to try to track someone down for the answer. This may lead to an opportunity to update the documentation, or it might even lead to an alternate (maybe better!) way of completing the task. This step may need to be repeated until both people are confident the task can be completed accurately and timely, without the support of the delegator. When you have reached this point, it’s time for the hand-off. These steps help ensure the delegatee won’t have to keep going back to the delegator with questions. Additional questions mean both parties are tied to the task, and will continue to spend time on it. Don’t take shortcuts! Invest the time necessary to do it right.

Here is a summary of the steps necessary to properly delegate:

  1. Document the process
  2. Delegator completes the process while the delegatee follows the documentation, to look for missing details.
  3. Documentation is updated to reflect answers to questions and missing details.
  4. Repeat step 2 and 3 until there are no additional changes necessary.
  5. Delegatee now completes the process, with the delegator present. There may be new questions, which require documentation updates.
  6. When there are no additional questions, and the delegatee can complete the process, without help, the process is ready for hand-off.

When done properly, delegation will free you up to do the things only you can do. It will give your team an opportunity to learn something new, and maybe even make improvements. It’s an opportunity for everyone involved to grow, and raise the bar!

Michael Hyatt goes further, on the topic, and talks about 5 levels of delegation. He includes a reference sheet you can download. I’m a big fan of Michael’s work and highly recommend you listen to the podcast, or review the transcript, and download the reference sheet. They are all found at

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks you are performing and it seems like your team isn’t growing, it may be a good time to work with a coach. For more info, click the button below.

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