Delegation is a powerful tool used in preparing leaders as always hinted (Pearson, 2019, Hughes et al, 2015). In effect, followers must embrace delegation on their leadership development journey with doses of smiles. Followers are groomed and shaped through delegation (Maxwell, 2013). Although delegation frees leaders’ time to focus on strategic initiatives, every leader delegates with an inspiring objective to create a new leader, someday. Here, leaders sometimes observe from a distance by reviewing how followers use authority when they are being delegated to. They check how followers use power, how followers influence, and more importantly, how their actions and inactions impact institutional processes and team performance. I like to delegate because it’s a skill that makes me accomplish many tasks on a daily basis.

“Apprenticeship is wise!”

When I delegate I am always alert on how followers deal with the 3 magic P’s: People, Processes, and Power. When followers within the delegation process tend to accept that power is transient and influence is lasting, they learn to guide their steps towards inspiring teams to do more to leave a mark irrespective of the duration of the delegation period. Some leaders use delegation to check leadership styles of followers.  By so doing leaders make good notes towards guiding followers on the way to leadership success.  I once had a line manager who will always delegate to get things done. I really admired him then (because he delegates unapologetically) and I still admire him now (because his actions launched my leadership journey). I’m always grateful to him. Among the lessons learned were that; never complain about being delegated to, doing your line manager’s tasks takes you a level higher above your peers and more importantly, apprenticeship is wise.

What line managers lookout for throughout any delegation process, is the apprenticeship journey and how ready a follower is, towards leadership development.  Sometimes leaders will share stories of their early career lives and their experiences with followers just to check their temperature and readiness on the journey. Good followers will make inferences and thus ask good and apt questions when necessary. Good leaders who intend to groom followers by delegating will always ask questions like: are you ready? As always hinted, in leadership discourse, being ready is a combination of two words: willingness and capacity (Hughes et al, 2015). A follower who is ready for a leadership role after being delegated to must have the capacity and must be willing to lead. If it’s a formal delegation process and followers lack any of the two, a good leader must handhold the follower as a project.

If a leader has to delegate to a follower who is willing but lacks capacity, the leader must resort to training and retraining. If the follower has capacity but appears unwilling to lead, the leader has to inspire, motivate and continue to influence. Even though critics may see it as a bad case if the follower lacks capacity and he or she is also unwilling to be delegated to, good leaders accept followers in this category as an opportunity to exhibit their coaching skills, and this is an untold story in delegation. Good leaders see delegation as coaching so to turn a bad case into a good one. Some leaders are also threatened by ambitious followers so they delegate with one eye widely opened. The next episode will share practical lessons on how to establish trust within the leader-follower delegation process.

This is Leadership!

Richard Ahenkorah
Author: Richard K. Ahenkorah

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