For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past and the present are certain to miss the future.
A risk is a chance you take; if it fails you can recover. A gamble is a chance taken; if it fails, recovery is impossible.
Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
There is no-one who cannot vastly improve their leadership through study.
I would define leadership as the projection of personality. It is that combination of persuasion, compulsion and example that makes other people do what you want them to do.
Leadership is the art of achieving more than the science of management says is possible.
We should be doing something even better than you could do for yourself. Otherwise, why hire an advisor?
Think to the Finish
The Five Ninths Panel
Contributors to our articles are:
David, a retired Royal Marines Major General, with extensive practical experience of leading national and multi-national teams and organisations - military and civilian - on politically sensitive and high profile operations and assignments worldwide.
Richard has advised on policy at the highest level of government and currently advises a major, multi-national, innovative business on a wide range of issues
Edward was a senior partner in a major global advisory practice and his experience delivers convincing, knowledgeable and relevant opinion
Delegation is one of the long-established core concepts of leadership. When employed efficiently it bestows significant advantages. But, it can invite risk and does not sit comfortably with all leaders.
Delegation is about authorising someone to do something on our behalf - the word itself stems from the Latin 'delegatus' (to send on a mission) and 'delegare' (to deputise) - and relates directly to responsibility, which is about being accountable for what we do, or fail to do. Delegation is usually about granting authority for specific and agreed purposes, limited by time and scope.
Most leaders cannot handle every action directly - there simply isn't enough time. When they choose to delegate a task it must obviously fall within the scope of the leader's authority. It is important to bear in mind that the person who delegates work remains accountable for the outcomes of the delegated work in question. Unless specified to the contrary, delegation empowers a subordinate to make decisions - which essentially denotes a shift of decision-making authority from one level to another.
So what are the benefits of effective delegation?
- Saves time
- Reduces work loads
- Stimulates and motivates subordinate's interest and initiative
- Encourages expansion and diversification
- Creates opportunity for development
- Efficient business and management practice
- Helps individual and team development
- Encourages mutual trust and confidence
- Reflects well on corporate culture
The basic steps to effective delegation can be summarised as:
- Define the task
- Select the individual or team
- Assess ability and training needs
- Explain the background and reasons
- State the required result
- Consider supporting resource requirement
- Agree a timeline (with milestones and a deadline)
- Support and communicate
- Feedback on results
More experience can earn wider delegation but the more critical the task, the greater the scope for caution and oversight. Always confirm that individuals are happy with and understand the intended level of delegated authority. Choose the intended subordinate carefully and be prepared to invest in training.
But what are the risks, challenges and common reasons for failure? Delegation involves people and people can and do get it wrong. This failure can result from inadequate briefing, unrealistic expectation, insufficient supporting resource or lack of oversight or, indeed, the task may well exceed a subordinate's level of skill or competence. Not all leaders are comfortable with delegation: some for reasons of insecurity; some don't feel happy about sharing success and micro-managers aren't able to release control. But subordinates may also lack ambition or are risk and decision-averse.
Delegation has clear relevance within all organisations and its successful implementation is all about people: building confidence, encouraging thinking at a higher level and a preparedness to live with the associated risks, mitigated by training of individuals and teams, which will invariably repay the investment. It also has to sit comfortably within corporate culture and will become essential in times of crisis, the symptoms of which include not enough time, not enough information (which together create uncertainty), huge stress, lots of unwelcome friction, new risks, often outside established procedures and acute stakeholder anxiety.