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How to empower your team to stand on their own two feet

Skilled delegation enables you to play a key role in empowering your team to pursue meaningful and fulfilling careers.

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If I had a hot chocolate for every time a leader asked me for help delegating, I’d be a very fat woman. I tackle complex problems in our work with executive teams and female leaders. Going through someone’s to-do list and helping them cross off items is a very easy day at the office indeed.

I recently ran a two-day workshop with a bank’s senior female leaders. By day two, the participants were spending every break on the phone with their teams, frantically attempting to extinguish real and imagined fires from afar. My questions to them were:

  • Are you able to take two days out of the workplace without chaos ensuing?
  • And, isn’t it time you made yourself redundant from the busy work so that you can focus on leading?

Their respective answers were: no and yes.

It’s time to delegate with abandon and without guilt. Delegating empowers your employees to become the leaders they want to be. The following tips will enable you to shape your dream career and help fulfill the ambitions of those who work for you.

4 tips for skillful delegation:

  1. Craft a statement that describes your perfect week at work. What work are you doing? What work are you not doing?
  2. Take some time to consider each of your employees. What are their strengths? What work lights them up? What work do they aspire to in three years? If you have no earthly idea, then it’s time to schedule some one-on-one meetings with your team in which you ask and listen more than you talk.
  3. At the start of each week, examine your to-do list. Tasks that align with your perfect week at work stay on your list. Most other tasks should be delegated according to your employees’ strengths, preferences and aspirations.
  4. Refine your vision and your understanding of your team members often. In particular, ask yourself:
    • What work doesn’t feel exciting or fulfilling to me anymore?
    • What work have I outgrown?
    • Where can I stretch my team members in ways that align with their strengths, preferences and aspirations?

Your role as a leader is to challenge your employees to just within the limits of their capability and potential, and in a direction they are excited by. This is achieved by delegating work, not hoarding it.

Skilled delegation achieves two positive outcomes. Firstly, it helps you to shed the work that doesn’t feel exciting to you and focus on what does. Secondly, it enables you to play a key role in empowering your staff to pursue meaningful and fulfilling careers. To me, this is one of the great privileges of leadership.

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