TO DELEGATE OR NOT TO DELEGATE

Many perspectives and precepts on delegation have been discussed in nuggets from previous episodes. Consistently, employees argue that a good delegation process must lead to recognition if not a reward (Hughes et al 2015). Interestingly, a temporary retreat by leaders sometimes lead followers on, subconsciously. Positioning leadership within the leader- follower- situation interactional framework in delegation, leaders bestow great responsibility to followers and followers accept responsibilities with great expectations. Unfortunately, expectations of followers are not appropriately scrutinized, which leave gaps in the leader follower delegation discussions (Maxwell 2013). To delegate or not to delegate is a big question. Whether a delegation process is good or not, it is always in the eyes of the beholder; so is beauty and same as good leadership.

“Delegation is more than just delegating”

In my leadership development journey, I always accept delegation as a greater responsibility. I liken delegation to relay competitions in athletics. Every member of a relay team has a responsibility to hold on to the baton until it gets to the finish line. Whoever hands over the baton ends up delegating power inadvertently. If any of the members within a relay team decides to drop the baton the whole team will be disqualified. This assertion invariably sums it up nicely that, delegation regurgitates the power of Teamwork. Not only that! Coaching plays a vital role in delegation, too. Good leaders delegate successfully. Successful delegation process twigs from good leadership.

The ARAR principle (Ahenkorah 2018) guides the delegation process. Within delegation, followers are given temporary Authority so they can be Responsible and later be Accountable for their actions so they can be Rewarded or Sanctioned. Within the leader-follower-situation framework, the leader delegates his tasks, position, experience and authority to employees temporarily. Good employees see this as an opportunity for growth especially in the event of role delegation. What the leader cannot easily hand over is his or her presence and personality type. This is because leaders are distributed disproportionately among personality types. Task delegation doesn’t lead to workplace challenges often times, because the leader may always be on the sidelines as a coach. Nevertheless, role delegation frequently leads to workplace encounters if not contests.

In the leader-follower-situation interactional framework, the follower is always expecting. This is normal. But it is worth noting that their expectations are not always about salary increment, training and development (now, learning and development), workplace culture or leader behavior. Their expectations are also about institutional leadership styles, how colleagues get promoted, leader-follower relationship and institutional opportunities for growth. Inasmuch as delegation is a responsibility, some leaders’ feel a part of their leadership control will be reduced over work that would definitely be evaluated (Pearson 2019). Delegation is more than just delegating. It is concerned with independence, responsibility, feedback, guidance, and follower progress than with participation.

Leaders must always treat delegation as a responsibility handed over to followers even if followers have ulterior motives. No matter how good or bad a situation may be, just delegate! Be skillful to know when to delegate and when not to.

This is Leadership!

Richard Ahenkorah
Author: Richard K. Ahenkorah

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