Followers sometimes feel leaders have veiled agenda when delegating, whereas some leaders think followers do have ulterior motives when being delegated to. Delegation doesn’t always free a leader to focus on the big picture as most often hinted. Sometimes it is a downright drag. As researched and subsequently confirmed by many authors, not all followers get the opportunity to lead teams someday (Armstrong 2005, Hughes et al 2015 & Maxwell 2013). Digging into the specificities of things, especially at the workplace, leaders have a bigger responsibility to always manage the expectations of followers when delegating. Similarly, followers must learn to manage their own expectations when being delegated to.

“Know your staff at least, if you don’t know your stuff.”

Some followers gloat around celebrating temporary relieving duties when being delegated to; and you often hear pitiful phrases like ‘My boss knows nothing. He does nothing. I do his stuff for him every time and he takes all the glory.’  When followers go with this wind they whirl and dissipate in the space eventually because they lack the understanding of the principles of apprenticeship. A middle level manager will most often delegate to officers and sometimes ask them to forward reports to his or her Line Manager on his or her behalf. It’s not a good practice as far as delegation is concerned. Ahenkorah (2018) hinted clearly that Leaders delegate, they don’t abdicate.  To the point, when delegation goes wrong, it’s always because the leader got it wrong. No one else takes the blame.

When The Gallup Organization researched into behaviours of approximately 140 CEOs in the list of the 500 fastest- growing institutions in the USA, it was observed that institutions that embraced delegation as a managerial tool used to develop talents, had a 3 year growth rate in excess of 1,700% higher than the institutions that do not. Yes, 1,700%. Bottom-line, CEOs should encourage delegation as an organizational culture rather than discouraging it. There are reasons why delegation goes bad. Many reasons. On a progressive note, leaders should not dread losing control. Holding too much power, makes leaders too heavy and they eventually sink with tasks. Delegation can go wrong if you over delegate as well. Interesting, isn’t it! As a leader, don’t wear out your go-to-employees. If you do, they may delegate back to you. That obviously will make delegation go wrong. The fact is, no work would be done.

The whole process of delegating is to motivate. When leaders and tasks fail to be inspiring, the institution and followers twiddle. Delegation could go wrong if leaders fail to see the best in followers. Additionally, leaders who fail to invest in followers may reap the fruit of discord because they might have planted seeds of forlorn. Delegation is built on trust. Delegation will always go wrong when there is no trust between the leader and the follower. For the leader to lead within the broad leadership interactional framework, he or she must learn the art of delegation. Delegation may not be taught. It must be learned. No one is born a good delegator. It is key to build the requisite skills on your way towards leadership development. Let me share one secret on delegation with you. As a leader, know your staff even if you don’t know your stuff. Within every good delegation process, there is a good and strategic communication approach to things.

This is Leadership!

Richard Ahenkorah
Author: Richard K. Ahenkorah

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