Even a potential control freak leader like me knows healthy delegating actually improves the organization. Healthy delegation is critical to effective leadership, but I know so many leaders who struggle to delegate. I think simple works, so I years ago I identified four easy steps to healthy delegation. 

Perhaps you are wondering how you could delegate when the church holds you responsible for getting things done. Or, how can you let go when doing so makes us sometimes feel so out of control?

I often say there are three underlying reasons a leader doesn’t delegate.

Pride. They don’t think someone else can – as well as them.
Selfishness. They don’t want someone else getting the credit.
Ignorance. They simply don’t know how.

I can’t help with the first two, other than point you to Scripture and hope it convicts you otherwise. But I might be able to help you with the third one.

I’m not trying to over simply a complicated leadership issue. It’s certainly not “easy” to implement as the title indicates, but the understanding the process really is simple.

4 easy steps to healthy delegation:

Identify

It could be a specific one-time task or an ongoing assignment. Find something which would be better if it were delegated. It could be because you aren’t as skilled as others in this area, you don’t have adequate time to commit to it, or you have lost interest in it. Look for things know someone would be better suited to lead. They have more time or talent in this area. Don’t get stuck on this one. Make sure you find something. There is always something when you look for it.

Match

Find the right person/s for the responsibility based on passion, experience, and follow through capabilities. This can be volunteer or paid, but pick people who will do what they say they will do and you trust. Otherwise you will constantly be looking over their shoulder and back to not delegating again. And you may not know until you give someone a chance to try.

Please don’t say there is no one to trust in your church or organization. If that’s the case, I see a couple options – you can change organizations or change the leader – and in these cases most of the time it is the leader. Part of leading is raising up others to lead. (I’m not trying to be harsh, but it’s true.)

Release

This is the “letting go” part. (This is the scary part for many leaders. You may simply have to walk by faith on this one. I suspect Moses did when he followed Jethro’s advice.) Few leaders really do this well. Leaders usually lean more toward control than release, in my experience.

But if you want to be a delegator – especially a healthy delegator, you have to learn to give up your right to control. It won’t likely be done the way you wanted it to be done. Things may not be done at the pace you expected. You have to release authority to do the delegated work. Help cast a vision of what a win looks like, give them the tools they need, but this is the part of delegation you need the most – getting out of the way.

Follow-Up

Healthy delegation isn’t a dumping of responsibilities. If you are the senior leader, you have some responsibility, even though you have released authority. Set a reminder on your calendar to periodically follow up with the person. Remain close enough and available to them should they have questions or need help, but stay out of their way as they complete the assignment.

I realize it’s not easy for some to delegate responsibility. It comes with discipline and practice. One way to improve at this is to consider the overall purposes and goals of the organization. When you recognize some things can better be attained through delegation – rather than simply completing tasks personally – you will lead healthier teams.

The journey to complete a worthy vision, includes delegating. Letting go to achieve greater success should be a key motivation for leadership.

Check out our new podcast where we unpack leadership issues in a applicable and practical way.

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Jim Pemberton says:

    Not only a great article, but at least two significant mentions:

    “Part of leading is raising up others to lead.”

    Standing ovation on that one. I was going to say that out of this article, this short sentence is worth an article all by itself. Then I came across this one a few sentences later:

    “…you have to learn to give up your right to control.”

    Indeed, this is the crux of the third point here, but while control freaks give us confidence in their leadership abilities because of their self-confidence, a leader who can’t let their subordinates lead has allowed their own self-confidence and lack of confidence in their subordinates to become a serious weakness for the team as a whole. Wow.

    So this article goes far beyond routine delegation. You need to raise up leaders. If you want to raise up leaders, you need to give them something to lead. If you give them something to lead, you need to let them lead it – and that’s a challenge to a lot of leaders. A leader leads a team, not a group of drones who can’t stand on their own. A team consists of people who have areas of authority that interact with each other. A group of drones just do what their told without thinking.

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