The right mindset for successful delegation

Embracing a delegation mindset is about taking a critical step back from your work, so you can see the big picture. It’s a mindset characterized by trust, a nuanced understanding of what it means to be competent and in control as a leader, and a genuine acceptance of human fallibility. Excerpt from the latest issue of Business Digest:


Rather than doing great work on your own, redefine your role as helping others to succeed at doing great work.

• Reconsider what it means to have control
Embracing the delegation mindset “requires redefining control from ‘knowing every detail off the top of my head’ to ‘having the right level of big picture perspective to make informed decisions.’ ”

• Focus on success and how to help others achieve it
As the delegator, you play a major role in determining the success of the delegation process. It is up to you to provide clarity of objectives, responsibilities and time.

Take the time to reflect on whether you could benefit from learning to trust your team members more.

• Be careful not to micromanage
The number one symptom of a lack of trust is micromanagement, when you closely observe or control the work of others instead of standing back and allowing them to manage the details.

• Don’t rationalize a lack of trust
If lack of trust causes you to micromanage, stop rationalizing your behavior.

It is crucial to be mentally prepared for the failures and oversights that inevitably occur from time to time.

• Expect mistakes and prepare yourself to manage them
Those to whom we delegate at times will make mistakes, as we will, and we have to be ready. One of the best tactics for being able to respond constructively when a delegatee inevitably makes some kind of error is to think about what could go wrong in advance.

• Resist taking control back
Instead of feeling frustrated or disappointed with others and immediately taking the task away, transform this situation into an opportunity for learning.

Based on The gift of time: How delegation can give you space to succeed by Gail Thomas (Capstone, March 2015), “How Office Control Freaks Can Learn to Let Go” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders (HBR, October 2013), “Signs That You’re a Micromanager” by Muriet Maignan Wilkins (HBR, November 2014) and the Interview with Simon Esner, Director, BaxterStorey (United Kingdom), June 2015.