5 Steps to Healthy Delegation

5 Steps to Healthy Delegation

Even a potential control freak leader like me knows healthy delegating actually improves the organization.

Yet, I work with dozens of pastors and leaders every year who struggle to release authority and responsibility.

How do we let go of responsibility when we are wired so heavily toward not doing so? How do we delegate when the church holds us responsible for getting things done? How do we let go when doing so makes us sometimes feel so out of control?

I often say there are three underlying reasons a leader doesn’t delegate.

Pride. They don’t think someone else can—as well as them.
Selfishness. They don’t want someone else getting the credit.
Ignorance. They simply don’t know how.

I can’t help with the first two, other than point you to Scripture and hope it convicts you otherwise. But, I can help you with the third one. And I’m not trying to over simplify a complicated leadership issue. It’s certainly not “easy” to implement as the title indicates, but understanding the process really is simple.

Here are four easy steps to healthy delegation:

Identify

It could be a specific one-time task or an ongoing assignment, but find something that would be better delegated—either because you aren’t as skilled as others, don’t have adequate time to commit to it, or have lost interest. You have to get gut honest here, but look for things you know someone would be better suited to lead. They have more time or talent in this area. And, don’t get stuck on this one. Make sure you find something. There is always something when you look for it.

Match

Find the right person/s for the responsibility based on passion, experience and follow through capabilities. This can be volunteer or paid, but pick people who will do what they say they will do and you trust. Otherwise you will constantly be looking over their shoulder, and back to not delegating again. And, you may not know until you give someone a chance to try. And, please don’t say there is no one to trust in your church or organization. If that’s the case, I see a couple options—you can change organizations or change the leader—and, most of the time it is the leader. Part of leading is raising up others to lead. (I’m not trying to be harsh, but it’s true.)

Release

This is the “letting go” part. (This is the scary part for many leaders. You may simply have to walk by faith on this one. I suspect Moses did when he followed Jethro’s advice.) Few leaders really do this well. Leaders usually lean more toward control than release, in my experience. But, if you want to be a delegator, especially a healthy delegator, you have to learn to give up your right to control. It won’t likely be done the way you wanted it to be done. It may not be done at the pace you expected. You have to release authority to do the delegated work. Help cast a vision of what a win looks like, give them the tools they need, but, this is the part of delegation you need the most—getting out of the way.

Follow-Up

Healthy delegation isn’t a dumping of responsibilities. If you are the senior leader, even when you delegate you have some responsibility, even though you have released authority. Set a reminder on your calendar to periodically follow up with the person. Remain close enough and available to them should they have questions or need help, but stay out of their way as they complete the assignment.

I realize it’s not easy for some to delegate responsibility. It comes with discipline and practice. One way to improve at this is to consider the overall purposes and goals of the organization, recognizing they can better be attained through delegation, and allow accomplishing them to be the leader’s principal responsibility—rather than simply completing tasks personally.

The journey to complete a worthy vision includes delegating. Letting go to achieve greater success should be a key motivation for leadership.

This article originally appeared here.

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Ron Edmondson
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.