Delegation is for leaders

by Evan Davies | |   Managing People

At a Members’ Speaker Series lunch a few weeks ago, a discussion centred on the skills and support leaders needed to meet the everyday challenges of 2015. All agreed that different times and different circumstances call for different think.

The point was made that the larger a CEO’s top management team or direct reports, the more time that CEO spends interacting with internal staff on internal operations issues, and the less time he or she spends working alone.

Some of those in the discussion pointed out that the ‘span of control’, a concept which refers to the number of people who report directly to a manager, has been part of the management vocabulary for decades. New technology, which enables easier access to more comprehensive data, now allows for greater detail in the implications of ‘span of control’. Specifically, how the number of direct reports affects what is deemed the ‘span of attention’. ‘Span of attention’ refers to the choices that CEOs and managers make on how they allocate their time, including with whom and what topics are discussed.

The point was made that managers often feel reluctant to delegate. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you must do everything yourself if you want it to be done right. This mindset, while common, is a major impediment to effective management. It’s a simple fact that one person can’t do everything. Trying to accomplish or micromanage too many tasks leads to burnout, poor quality and missed deadlines, not to mention time management problems. Delegation is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of leadership.

The job of a CEO is to lead and manage others, not to do their work for them. Even if you can do some things better yourself, you can’t do it all by yourself. Your fear, hesitation, control issues, perfectionism, and maybe arrogance, only make a team less effective, less productive and less successful. Delegate tasks, share the workload, and develop employees’ skills and abilities.

I personally was stunned by how freely our discussion circle came up with a list of compelling reasons to delegate. Delegation can free up time for planning and organising and it helps managers to learn how to manage and develop employees. Having too much on the plate is not only difficult for the boss; it can be disastrous for the team. Delegation keeps managers from spreading themselves too thin. If there is delegation to team members and lines remain open for questions, there will be a feeling of trust and that you are accessible for communication.

All in the discussion group agreed that this assists in motivation and building of morale. As one member stated, in her experience delegation had encouraged and stimulated creativity and initiative. It was unanimous; leaders of the future have to come from somewhere. Developing employees through delegation and helping them to learn new skills not only benefits them, but furnishes the organisation with more qualified and better trained personnel. Delegation can develop skills.

In the end, all were in agreement that delegation will benefit a team, a department, and the organisation. It can foster trust, boost morale, promote increased productivity and efficiency, and generate a culture of enthusiasm, innovation, creativity, cooperation, and openness.



The CEO Institute was founded in 1992. It is now Australia's leading membership organisation for CEOs and senior executives. It provides a forum for over 1,000 Chief Executive members to connect and share their learning with each other. In 2011, The CEO Institute became the world’s first global certification body for CEOs, and in 2013, partnered with UNESCO in support of the "Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education". In 2014, they began offering their programs globally. The CEO Syndicate is an exclusive peer support network for CEOs. The first meeting of The CEO Syndicate program was held in Melbourne in June 1992. Offices were opened in Adelaide in 1996 and Sydney and Brisbane in 1997, with Perth launching in 2007. In 2015 the New Zealand office opened.  The Future CEO program is a certification course designed by the business leaders of today for the business leaders of tomorrow. The first Future CEO meeting was held in Melbourne in May 2012. In 2014, the "Future CEO Scholarship Fund for Women" was established, and continues to be offered today. Membership of The CEO Institute is by invitation only. To register your interest click enquire.



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