The Downside to delegation

Delegation is a necessary evil. It’s an essential skill needed to get tasks accomplished, free up high-level leaders to spend their attention on what is most necessary, and it allows developing leaders to experiment with getting things done. But empowerment is what is really needed to grow the emerging leaders in your organization. There is a big difference between delegation and empowerment.



Wikipedia describes delegation as, “the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities. However the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work.” Delegation has to do with the giving away of tasks and following up on those tasks that the leaders wants to be accomplished, the way they want them to be accomplished. While delegation may be great when it comes to getting projects accomplished, it falls short in developing the emerging leaders in your organization.


Contrary to delegation, empowerment is about giving away not only responsibility but also authority. It’s about painting a picture of a desired future with clear goals and objectives in order to provide guardrails for your team. Then ultimately releasing those you paint that picture for to run. Then when people don’t meet expectations you take those opportunities to coach and to train.

Young leaders learn to lead by experimenting with leadership. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Am I relegating the young leaders in my organization to a grocery list of tasks or real meaningful work?” If every decision needs to come back to you then guess what? You’ve delegated tasks, not empowered people.


In a previous post “7 Qualities of Leader I’d Follow” we got into an interesting conversation about delegation. This post is an attempt to follow up on that conversation. And yes, in honor of College Football starting up again (thank you God!!!), that is a picture of Tim Tebow passing the National Championship Trophy to Chris Leak! Go Gators!

Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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