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Mary Jo Asmus

Hi Steve,

Great reminders. I work with a lot of mid-level "managers of managers" and find that lack of delegation is often a problem here too. With every promotion up the corporate ladder, there comes another opportunity to allow the people who report to you the chance to do meaningful work and for you to trust them to do so!


One of the most uncomfortable phrases I've heard in business is, "I won't ask anyone else to do what I'm not willing to do myself." While that's a reasonable statement in theory, because it indicates that you treat others fairly and don't simply pawn off your dirty work on them, it's one of the worst philosophies relative to delegation. A good manager needs to be willing to delegate the jobs that they are willing to do themselves, as well as the jobs they aren't willing to do. Hiring people who are better than you at something is the greatest responsibility of a manager. If you have an attitude that you won't ask them to do something you won't do yourself, chances are you're also micromanaging them, because you know you're capable of doing their work. Being willing to say, "I don't know how to do this, so I am delegating to you as the expert" is a humbling, and ultimately rewarding experience for those you manage--as long as the acknowledgement of their expertise is given honestly.

Al Pittampalli

Indeed, it can be scary to delegate responsibility sometimes. Early on in being a manager, it can feel like you're punishing the designee. But part of a being an effective manager is having the maturity to realize that people want work, they want responsibility, and they want to serve the mission.

Sylvia Lafair

My experience is that the type A superachievers have been so busy being seen and heard they forgot what they learned in grade school about sharing. This is such a great area for self exploration. And I appreciate your comment that giving up control is hard for you. Once someone can say that, can observe those patterns that resist change, it makes it easier to let go and trust that others are there to support and help.
Thanks for your excellent manner of telling it like it is!

Beyond Horizons

Great advice! And one that is often ignored.
I have often noticed that some bosses have a really hard time delegating tasks and authority because they are not sure if the job will get done right. They just find it easier to do all of it themselves. But how much can one person do?
Besides, it is really suffocating and constricting when a boss doesn't give enough of a free hand to his people. Employees don't give in their best when they feel like all their actions are being controlled. So some amount of power and responsibility needs to be delegated. And this can only be done when there is trust and respect for every individual.

- Sindoora (http://www.beyondhorizons.in)


Great information Steve,

I would to add some advice for a new manager or leader of an organization.
While working towards the company's objective, be conscience of your employees perspective and pull from the knowledge they have gained before you arrived to the position.
Share and discuss the improvements that you are looking to implement, and if possible, get a buy-in from a many employees that will be affected.

Chris Witt


You're absolutely right about the need to delegate. And I love the questions you've posed.

I find that the new managers I work with are reluctant to delegate because, as you write, they're afraid of letting go. I also find that they don't know how to delegate, perhaps because their bosses didn't delegate well.

Have you posted something about the rules for delegating?


I do agree you have a great list of questions and that delegating can be challenging for most managers. It boils down to trusting your team as their work is ultimately a reflection of you. One question I often ask is "What one thing can you stop doing today that will give you more time?" When put in a perspective about delegating it may help you to determine which tasks you are comfortable giving up to someone else.

Insights Discovery

I think the first point is one that many managers can relate to ... the fear of delegating to others. I can think of many managers that want to keep complete control of every task through fear of failure. There has to be a trust built between the Manager and his team if a company is to really grow. Good article

Steve Roesler

Mary Jo

You have me thinking (as always). One would surmise that the more often one moves upward, the more opportunities one has to reflect on how many people were really involved in helping and "getting things done" along the way. So, at some point, the "delegate" and "provide meaningful work" gene would, theoretically, kick in. As you are well aware, there are managers who complete an entire career with a command and control approach, regardless of the situation and the talent available.

Sure makes one wonder. . .

Steve Roesler


Your offering is crisp, clearly stated, and I can't add anything of substance. Thanks for adding that to the discussion.

Steve Roesler


I think the operative phrase in your experience is "people want work." It's true, because most of us want to be challenged and to learn new things. Lack of delegation is a signal that there's a lack of learning and that you're contributing to a shortage of bench strength.

Steve Roesler


You know, you are dead right. It's something we are taught in grade school and, in a perfect world, would transfer into adulthood. I'm wondering if those super achievers ignored the lessons because they were actually rewarded for other "achievement"-type behavior. The same sort of thing we see in organizations every day: "Oh, but (s)he's such a good producer/manager/financial wiz--everyone needs to understand it's "just the way (s)he is."

Steve Roesler


Solid addition to a new manager's bag of tricks.

Steve Roesler

Hey there, Chris,

No, I"ve not posted anything about "rules" or "guidelines" but you've sparked the thought.

Hope all is well out on the left coast. . .

Steve Roesler

Dr Zimmerman

Terrific question and one that i hope readers who are struggling with "letting go" will use.

Thanks for that addition. . .

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