How to delegate

Self Coach: Miranda Kennett explains the art of delegation

by Miranda Kennett
Last Updated: 23 Feb 2015

Having established their priorities, excellent leaders make sure they devote their energies to the things they alone can achieve, and pass on other tasks and responsibilities to those more appropriate to carry them out.

Do you say: 'It's quicker to do it myself' or 'I don't have anyone suitable to give it to'? If so, you need to brush up your delegating skills.


  •  Overload; inability to tackle major projects
  •  Demoralised competent staff who feel micromanaged
  •  Panicked less experienced staff who are not ready for the tasks dumped on them
  •  Martyr complex - 'why do I have to work evenings and weekends?'


The key is to fit your leadership style to the experience and competence of the individuals you work with. Your aim is to increase the competence of your people so that they feel motivated and you can spend more time leading and less time doing.

  •  Directing

Telling people exactly what they should be doing. This is the most time-consuming style of leadership, but essential with someone totally new to the task.

  •  Supervising

Allowing people to conduct the task while keeping a close eye on how they are doing.

  •  Mentoring

Sharing your experience when asked or if needed.

  •  Coaching

Setting out what you're looking for, asking people how they'll go about achieving it, reviewing results on an agreed date.

  •  Delegating

Giving responsibility for a task or a process to an appropriate individual, with occasional progress reports.

  •  Devolving

Handing over complete authority to another person.

Using an inappropriate style is a frequent mistake. For example, seasoned employees may be entirely competent but are suddenly given people to manage, a responsibility for which they have had no experience.

The coaching style of leadership is perhaps the most useful of all: by asking rather than telling, the leader can assess how ready an individual is to cope with a project.

Miranda Kennett is an independent coach. If you have a problem you'd like her to tackle, email:

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