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The Secret to Career Success? Learning How to Delegate Effectively – Here’s How

President Of TrainSmart, Inc.

Ask most successful leaders to pinpoint an event that was pivotal to their career success, and they are likely to say,’ It was the time my manager gave me a project that felt way beyond my ability.  Over and over again, leaders attribute their own career success to someone who trusted them enough to delegate a career-changing project.

For business leaders, there are few responsibilities more important than developing people. Yet, many managers struggle with delegation – resulting in a team that is often disengaged and underproductive. Why is that?

There is no one easy answer. The delegation, like many issues in business, is full of complexity.  Certain business cultures create environments that make people believe it is too risky to delegate. Some people are working with teams that may not have the necessary skills to succeed at a delegated project. Then, there are just some personality types that are hardwired to avoid delegation.

“The good news is that delegation is a skill set that can be learned and mastered,” says David Finley, a Senior Consultant at TrainSmart. Finley is an expert in the DiSC Profile Assessment – a personality tool that gauges things like work habits, management potential, conflict resolution, and leadership style including one’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to delegation.

According to Finley, there are definitely some styles that have a natural bias against delegation. Often they believe that no one else can do the job the way it needs to be done, or they are convinced no one else can do it in a timely manner.  Some personality types prefer to take all the credit for the good work done by the team. “These personality types,” says Finley,” fool themselves into thinking it’s easier to do the job themselves.”

Finley stresses the first step in learning how to improve your delegation skills is to understand your own behavior in normal, slightly stressful, and major stressful situations.  “Your behavior changes depending on the stress level.  Once you have a handle on your own behavior you can begin taking advantage of tools to help delegate to team members,” Finley explained.

Once you have a handle on your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to delegating, it’s important to extend trust to team workers because trust is what drives delegation. Too often, says Finley, these personality types will find one or two people that they trust and then rely on that exclusive group for all projects.

One way to extend trust to other people is to complete a delegation checklist.


1.    Is this a task that can be delegated to someone else?

2.    List all the people who have the skills to do the task

3.     If there are multiple candidates, create a PMI Chart to help with the decision.

4.    Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person’s skills?

5.    Do you have enough time to provide the necessary support to answer questions and establish reviews for key project milestones?

6.    Remember, you can either tell someone what to do, or how to do it, but never both.


Delegation is a critical skill for managers and leaders to develop. While some personality types may be naturally inclined to avoid delegating, the good news is that delegation abilities can be learned and improved over time. By understanding your own tendencies and biases, using tools like delegation checklists, extending trust to team members, and providing the right amount of guidance, managers can become more adept at delegating. This allows them to develop their team members’ skills and capacity, free up their own time for higher-level work, and ultimately drive greater productivity and engagement across the organization. Mastering delegation is a process that takes practice, but doing so can pay huge dividends for managers, their teams, and their organizations.

Note: We offer custom-tailored delegation training for managers workshops to companies throughout the world. Contact us at 800-807-8030 to learn more about our workshops.