Tag Archives: Delegation

Boss versus Leader – not so clear cut.

Boss vs Leader

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Intuitively, the picture resonates.  We’ve all had the petty-tyrant boss; the person who loves the sound of their own voice and is oblivious to the resentment and de-motivation they’re engendering.

And most of us can relate to the manager who loves to roll up his sleeves and jump in on the line.

But don’t be fooled.  There’s a problem with the scenario that this image paints, especially when it comes to larger teams with significant division of labour:

You can’t fly at 40,000 feet and be on the tarmac at the same time.

If you as the organizational leader are always “hands-on”, who’s doing your job?  To belabor the cheap analogies; if the captain is always in the engine room, the ship’s going to run aground.


Don’t “lord it” over your team.  Challenge them, but don’t be a slave-driver.  Be nice, respectful, sincere, and above all, just.  But recognize that their job is not yours.  They need to be accountable for their role, just as you need to be accountable for yours.

In a pinch, get in the trenches and dig.  But if you need to do that regularly, you’re not doing your job properly; you’re just a very overpaid member of the team.

When it comes to that bromide about being “Hands On”, here’s the rule to follow:

Be hands-on as much as necessary, but as little as possible.

And over time, given that a part of your job as “boss” is to develop your reports, you should be hands-on less and less.  That will be easier if you master the art of delegation.

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Apologies for all the links, hope they weren’t distracting and that you find some of the material useful.

Questions or comments – feel free.







Delegation – When, Why and How.

Update 26Jun13:

Outsourcing, engaging a contractor, getting your car fixed, and even going to the doctor, are all forms of delegation, so employing the steps below is just as critical to achieving your desired outcome.

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Delegate, Relegate, Back-up, Follow-up.

Read that again.  That’s the short version, for memory.

Here’s the slightly longer version:

  1. Delegate the task
  2. Relegate authority
  3. Provide Back-up
  4. Schedule Follow-up

These are the four steps to successful delegation.  Simple.  A friend taught me this a long time ago and it has served me extremely well.  It needn’t be more complicated.

Remember and use these steps and you’ll end up making yourself redundant, which should be the goal of every leader. We’ll go into detail in a minute.  First, let’s look at what delegation actually is (and isn’t), and when you should delegate. Continue reading

Are you too “Hands On”?

For too many managers, the answer is yes.

The simple rule is:

Hands-on as much as necessary, but as little as possible, and less over time.

Leaders have to allow their reports to do their jobs, and to grow in their jobs, even if that means mistakes.  You’re there to catch them when they fall, not to jump for them.  In critical issues, yes, be hands-on, especially the first time.  That’s what “as much as necessary” means.

But the best  leaders work towards their own redundancy, so work increasingly “hands-off” as they develop the capabilities of their reports.