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How to delegate


Delegation will give you more time for leadership tasks and develop your staff

Delegation is the means by which leaders share tasks with or transfer responsibilities to others in their team.

It is important for both the people who are delegated to, because it will increase their knowledge and responsibilities, and the leader, who is freed up to take on important leadership tasks that cannot always be delegated.

You should be careful, though, not to delegate just because you are overwhelmed by your workload or because you can’t meet a specific deadline. Instead, try planning out what needs to be done and resourcing it appropriately.

Stretching your team by offering them the chance to take on more tasks creates good working relationships, and helps their confidence because being awarded this trust often results in the staff member applying extra effort to successfully complete the job. They will learn new skills, and this also enables you to prepare them to step up to take on more responsibility.

You should be careful to only delegate tasks that you think your team can manage. For example, don’t delegate serious conflict management and be aware that, if you delegate tasks to a team member who isn’t able to complete a task, this will dent their confidence in themselves and in you as a leader.

Many clinical managers find it hard to delegate because they don’t trust anyone else to do the task as well as they would themselves. This can demoralise your team because they feel that they are not valued, and this failure to relinquish control can make the leader’s workload unmanageable.

Leaders often say they don’t delegate because it takes them as much time to explain the task as it would do to do it themselves. This may be true but a leader should always consider delegation within a wider spectrum and be aware that teaching someone how to do a task will enable them to repeat it independently in future.

Some leaders also want to avoid overburdening an already stretched department but, in all of these situations, you must consider the positive outcomes of the delegation on your team and the service you are providing. Allowing a shift in responsibilities will enable you to become a more effective leader, and boost team morale.

The best delegators are those who can balance delegation and control so their staff can develop new skills and take burdensome work forwards, while retaining enough control to ensure delivery.

»This is an excerpt from Clinical Leadership from A to Z by Dickon Weir-Hughes. Available from

How to delegate

  • Marry the correct task with the person who has the suitable skills, experience and motivation to complete the task
  • Explain the task fully, including the reasons for delegation and the importance of the whole task
  • Make yourself available to the person so you can give advice, support and guidance throughout
  • Retain some control so you can assess progress and confirm that instructions are fully understood and followed to meet expectations



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  • Article

    22 June, 2011 | By Dickon Weir-Hughes


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