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The 3 Phases of Empowering Delegation - Part 1

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

I had too much to do.

We had vision. Our leadership team was healthy. We were doing lots of great things. And yet I realised that there was still simply too much for me to do. These weren’t simple tasks either, I’m talking about significant projects and teams that needed leadership.

I’d read and listened to lots of content on delegation but I just wasn’t satisfied with the ideas that were out there. My experience with delegation to this point had been quite negative. I felt like I either ended up failing to truly hand it over and get proper buy-in or I ended up dumping it on the person. I knew there must be a better way.

It was at this point that I got some great advice. I was chatting with someone about all the things I had on my plate and which things I could get rid of when they looked at me and said, “maybe you don’t just need to move things around - maybe you need a paradigm shift?” I looked at them and nodded slowly. I needed to rethink it altogether.

So I took some time to think creatively about a solution. What would it look like for me to let go of things that were on my plate in a way which improved the quality of the project long-term and invested in the person I was delegating to rather than crushing them?

It was at this point that I started developing the 3 phases of empowering delegation. After a few weeks of brainstorming, editing and trialling ideas, I felt like the 3 phases was fully formed. I was excited to give it a proper go, so I began to take action and use the 3 phases of empowering delegation to do something about the fact that I had way too much to do.

I was nervous as I sat down to have my first conversations using my plan. But what I found is that instead of leaders looking back at me with either a sense of ‘I don’t get it’ or ‘this is too much’, I now had leaders looking at me across the table with tears in their eyes and a level of buy-in I had never experienced before. When we looked together at the details of what was being delegated, instead of being hard work and obligatory, the dynamic was collaborative and encouraging.

Most importantly, the reason I got more and more excited as I rolled out the 3 phases of empowering delegation in my context was that there were two results. First, over time I could see that the extent to which I had too much to do was lessening. Second, I discovered that I had stumbled into a key to great leadership.

What had started as an effort to do delegation really well in a way that invested in others actually resulted in what I call empowering delegation. Instead of crushing people or having limited buy-in, people were coming alive and flourishing as I invested in them in such an intentional way.

You see, I believe that many leaders need to focus on how they are communicating vision. I also believe strongly that many others need to focus on building a healthy leadership team. But what do you do when you’ve got vision and a great leadership team yet still too much on your plate? Or you’re a leader in a context where a leadership team just isn’t relevant? It’s you and a handful of people, or even one person, and you need to find a way to delegate things off your plate and empower one person - a ‘second in charge’ if you will?

I believe - or I hope - that if you find yourself in these positions, then you might just find the 3 phases of empowering delegation to be the help that you need. I hope that as you follow the process you might go from a place of having too much to do to a place where you no longer have too much on your plate and, more importantly, to a place where others are flourishing from the way you’ve invested in them.

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