Why You Need to Learn How to Delegate

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Learning how to delegate is one of the best productivity boosters there is: but it is a skill that often doesn’t come naturally.  Business Optimizer takes a look at what delegation is and how to do it successfully.

What does it mean to delegate?  The Oxford Dictionary says to delegate is “to entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself”.

Sounds simple enough… so why do so many of us find it so hard?

The Harvard Business Review makes the point that many managers don’t realise they are hoarding work.  Even if you are aware that you are hoarding work, delegating can be difficult.

The first step is to understand why you are holding back from delegating, which is sometimes a difficult task in itself:

  • Do you worry about being upstaged by subordinates?
  • Do you fear you will lose status as the “go to” person for a particular topic?
  • Are you unsure about which tasks you could successfully delegate?
  • Do you see some tasks as “too important” to delegate and fear ceding control?


Once you’ve established what’s holding you back from delegating, you can begin to develop strategies to help you overcome your own reservations and free yourself to delegate more.

As we’ve noted in an earlier post, successful delegation is a long-term commitment.  It begins with knowing what to delegate and who to delegate each task to.  It demands good communication skills, control, and a willingness to stand back and not micromanage.

Hard work, yes, but worth every difficult step.

Lynda Shaw writes in Forbes magazine, “As we become more senior, our responsibilities expand and it’s quite clear that we can’t do everything whilst producing high quality work, developing more business and maintaining a modicum of sanity.”

Highly successful leaders, including Elon Musk and Zara boss Amancio Ortega, have found that their ability to delegate is crucial to their success.

Or as Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behaviour at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, puts it, “Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions so that the world doesn’t go to hell if you take a day off.”