Empower your team by delegating effectively

Coaching meets Leadership - by Christina Wanke, 30.4.2019

Many entrepreneurs and leaders realize that empowering their team is the major key to manage their own workload and handle the constant pressures. Yet they do not like to delegate. It might be that they find it difficult to let go of responsibilities. Here is an effective way to set the scope in the first place and thus ensure a mutual understanding of boundaries and accountability.  

In an agile context, the empowerment of your team is a vital necessity. The team must have the capability to make decisions about how to do their work and execute on those decisions without outside interference. In addition, an empowered team will be more capable of responding to change as well as to make use of the creative potential. 

However, letting others decide does not necessarily imply a ‘laissez-faire’ culture! In my experience, explicitly setting the frame is a key success factor to enable individuals and teams to operate autonomously and to make a valuable contribution that includes a sense of self-worth. By setting a comprehensible scope we allow the team members to step out of the comfort zone and at the same time accomplish the tasks within a reasonable risk zone. It provides a team environment which allows making mistakes while being explicit about boundaries and responsibilities for results. 

A practical way to delegate effectively

The challenging question for you as the leader is: How can you define the framework within which the team’s decisions should be made? 

I find ‘The Six Levels of Initiative’ by Steven R. Covey a very practical and hands-on approach to clarify expectations and the scope of responsibility. It allows a precise dialogue in an effective manner. Over time, this way of interacting will gradually become a natural ingredient of your effective collaboration. 

Here are the ‘Six Levels of Initiative’ as proposed by Steven R. Covey which I discuss with my clients in individual Leadership Coachings as well as in Team Coachings.

  1. Wait for instructions

  2. Ask for instructions

  3. Bring recommendation

  4. Use own judgement, report immediately

  5. Use own judgement, report routinely

  6. Use own judgement, not necessary to report.

In case the Six Levels or the exact formulation do not perfectly match with your own ideas of delegation, I would encourage you to adjust them in a manner that suits your own practices and understanding. After all, you are most effective when your interventions and conversations reflect your true self! In case you wish any further inputs on this topic, please feel free to get in touch.