Leadership Challenge: Don’t Be Afraid of the Art of Delegation

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Phillip Browning
  • 82nd Medical Group superintendent
It's a dilemma we all face. Do you complete a task yourself, or delegate it to someone else? You may know how to do the job, but should you always accomplish it?

Delegation requires having confidence in someone's ability to complete the task at hand. Conversely, hoarding knowledge and opportunities stifles one's growth as technicians, managers and leaders. So, why is delegation difficult for some individuals?

One reason may be the pressure of deadlines. On rare occasions, this factor will dictate that you work a project yourself, but most of the time you'll have the option to give others an opportunity to work it. Effective managers and leaders realize that they must do periodic checks on the progression of tasks because they understand that although responsibility has been delegated, overall authority remains with them.

A subordinate's experience level is one of the most common barriers to delegation. When possible, exercise situational leadership when there's a task for which someone isn't highly competent. Situational leadership is a process of providing a considered combination of direction and support to individual(s) as they work on a task. The overarching goal is developing a more competent, confident and highly committed professional. This process takes time and effort, but the end result far exceeds the initial cost.

Some are afraid of delegating because the individuals that are assigned a task may find a better way of doing business. One should not perceive this as an unveiling of their own weaknesses. In my opinion, those who refrain from delegating because of this should get over it or step aside. Someone who improves a process is a direct reflection of excellent training and leadership.

It's absolutely critical, to continually develop your subordinates though the art of delegation. This takes courage, effort, and may even have an end-product quality cost. But remember your success as a leader is directly related to the professional growth of your subordinates, which is well worth the effort.