Rethinking delegation at work | PS News

by John J. Williams

John Eades* says any manager can delegate tasks, but the best leaders use delegation as a pathway to empowerment.

Have you ever wondered what sets leaders apart from managers?

The list is long and includes inspiration rather than motivation and visionary rather than temporary.

However, you have one important difference under control; today, it is more important than ever: empowerment instead of delegation.Rethinking delegation at work |  PS News

A common advice from executives trying to help less experienced managers is, “You need to delegate more.”

While the suggestion to take things off your plate and put it on someone else makes sense, the intent behind the question makes all the difference.

When leaders delegate, it’s about them.

When leaders empower, it’s about others.

One of the main mistakes leaders make is confusing delegation and empowerment.

The Harvard Business Review defines delegation as the transfer of responsibility for specific tasks from one person to another.

From a management perspective, delegation occurs when a manager assigns specific tasks to his employees.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, empowerment is “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights”.

It enables others to be responsible and take ownership of something.

I have defined leadership as inspiring, empowering, and serving to uplift others.

Enabling others to make decisions is an essential part of successful leadership.

A great example of the difference between delegation and empowerment came from one of my recent coaching conversations with a rising star named Kara.

Kara’s clinic performed well, but she burned out doing everything she could.

When asked what would help her, she replied, “I could delegate our supplies procurement process to one of my team members.”

While it was a great idea, she considered delegation rather than empowerment.

I challenged her to change her mind.

“Instead of simply asking a team member to order supplies, what if you enabled them to improve the purchasing process?”

Immediately Kara changed her mindset from delegation to empowerment.

This was her reaction as she reenacted the conversation with her teammate:

“I’ve been thinking about improving our supply purchasing process.

“Because you’re so detail-oriented and a great negotiator, would you be open to taking ownership of our procurement process for the next three months to see how it goes?”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how the empowerment approach transfers faith and ownership versus delegating a potentially boring task.

Since the invention of the assembly line, delegating tasks to employees has made sense.

But thanks to remote working during COVID-19, employees want something different and ask for flexibility.

In a recent episode of the Work-Life Podcast with author Adam Grant, he said the following when describing the need for businesses to rethink flexibility at work:

“Managers are constantly creating constraints and limiting opportunities.

What is needed is more flexibility while still meeting organizational objectives.”

As obvious as this may sound, its execution is ridiculously challenging.

However, the result is a more engaged, innovative, and committed team.

Now that it’s clear that the best leaders empower rather than delegate, how can you do this more effectively? Here are a few ideas to explore:

Empowerment requires a high degree of trust.

Concrete trust is connected from every corner of the organization.

Trust is simply consistency over time.

This means trust is earned through a two-way street paved by consistent action.

A street paved with leaders who allow others to earn flexibility so that they are empowered to do their best work.

Then team members are willing to be patient and prove trustworthy.

There is a big difference between being interested and being committed.

The easiest way to trust that empowering others is the next step is to have a group of people committed to the mission, each other, and the effort it takes to succeed.

One way to ensure this level of mutual commitment is to have each team member write or say, “My commitment is…”

As simple as this may sound, our wo”ds are our bond.

Pe”ple are more likely to keep going if they commit to themselves verbally.

Money is an organization’s most popular incentive tool to retain and recruit employees.

While the pay is significant, it’s not the most important thing.

People give their best in a team that shares values ​​it’sgoals.

A consistent and systematic approach to align core values ​​and communicate the deeper purpose behind the work is imperative.

There’s nothing worse than defining and talking about core values, but not demonstratinThere’s

Leaders are the main driver of core values, so they must embody them correctly.

I’d be lying if I told you it’s easy to empower others.

Most people, myself included, find it hard tit’sve up control.

However, if iI’dou want to act and behave like the best leaders, the right thing to do is to empower others.

*John Eades is the Chief Executive of LearnLoft, a leadership development company. He can be reached at

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