Delegation vs Management

Five ideas1 by Conor Neil about delegating vs. managing, from his article about the power of delegation:

  1. You don’t delegate tasks, you delegate responsibility. (…) Delegation requires that you transfer the full emotional responsibility to get something done.

  2. If a company is in difficulty and the entrepreneur is the only one having sleepless nights, then the entrepreneur has a delegation problem.

  3. If you say I have problems delegating, I often say No, you don’t. You have problems attracting “A” players.

  4. Management is not delegation. Management is a useful thing, but it is not scalable in the way delegation is. A manager keeps a list of things to follow up on from other people –they have passed the task, but remain emotionally responsible for the work getting done. (…) The bottleneck of leadership is emotional responsibility. (…) It doesn’t matter who does the work, it matters who owns the emotional liability for the work.

  5. Do not delegate to people who don’t take notes. (…) Do not delegate to people without personal discipline and order.

What the author doesn’t consider however, is that most of the time one can only choose a small portion of his or her team. What can you do? Help others develop their skills, help them increase their effectiveness and responsibility. If you don’t, you will end up maybe assigning tasks to your reports –managing them– but keeping all the emotional responsibility for yourself, no to mention the consequent follow up effort. Your work won’t scale.

So, if only for the sake of effectiveness –a low grade motivator, but nonetheless a valid one–, the leader is obligued to help those around her.

  1. The ideas are transcribed almost textually from Conor Neils’s article. 
delegation leadership management productivity

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