In a world with increasing complexity and opportunities, where the amount of information is close to unlimited and where big data is getting bigger, decision making has become a challenging task. If you haven’t already acknowledged that you can´t be on top of everything, it is about time: You don’t have all the insights, and you can’t make decisions fast enough by yourself.
Distributed Leadership is a fundamental part of modern leadership. In short, it’s about moving away from one person making decisions at the top of his ivory tower, to delegating tasks and decisions to multiple hands. If you succeed in distributed leadership, you’ll most likely see that creativity and productivity increase in your organization.
But how do you delegate tasks and decisions, and why is it important to manage expectations when you delegate?
Get an overview of your tasks, then delegate
- First step is to make a list of all tasks and decision points you have.
- Find out if some tasks and decisions can be delegated.
- Delegate tasks to those who have the willingness, time, and skills to run with them.
- Get the spectrum of the levels of delegation, for example by playing Delegation Poker. This helps clarify who’s responsible for what and to what level and encourage employee engagement through controlled self-organization.
- Make sure to catch misunderstandings or mistaken assumptions by having frequent touchpoints.
- When three months have passed, evaluate.
Person + task + decision = a unique combination
Based on the seven delegation levels from Delegation Poker, it’s important to always look at the link between person, task and decision: Which mandate and decision level fits the situation? This is the whole premise of succeeding with delegation. It’s about balancing expectations; scope, time, cost, quality, risk and resources, and ensure that both you, as the delegator, and the employee are confident in how decisions are made. Depending on the employee’s competence level, experience and the context, you also need to balance the right level of support, guidance and motivation. In other words, it is about Situational Leadership.
Authority versus Authorization
A way to balance expectations, is to be clear on the distinction between Authority and Authorization. Having the authority to make decisions can be both confusing and stressful without the authorization – i.e. a clear mandate.