Know When to Delegate

Ordained Minister’s Online Guide to Mentorship, Pastoring, Personal & Leadership Development

By Michael Mooney

Thoughtful quote: "Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere." -Ronald Reagan


The Fearfully Responsible


Delegation is a word that sends fear into the hearts of many leaders. After all, the leader is inevitably in charge and responsible for outcomes.  If those outcomes are undesirable it means that the leader must accept the blame.  For this reason many are tempted to just assume all of the work and all of the outcomes -good or bad.  At least this way they can keep the playing field fair, they will never have to bear the blame of other people’s mistakes.


The Micromanager


Another response to delegation are those who have the philosophy, "if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself".  These people believe that no one is capable of performing things as well as they can, or at least at the level of their expectations.  They would not necessarily word their feelings in this way, but their actions demonstrate it.  If you get in their way they will quickly inform you that they do not have time to "play games", or for meaningless "small talk".  They spend much of their time analyzing their way of doing things, and they just cannot understand why so many people are not as "efficient" as they are in their time management and processes.


Thoughtful quote: "The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." -Theodore Roosevelt


Both of the above described leadership styles are inevitably positioned to experience frustration, disappointment, and burnout.  On top of these things, the people under them are likely to lose respect for them or even harbor resentment.  People who have fallen into leadership traps like these seem to have forgotten one fundamental aspect of leadership, that is the followers. The followers are there to help the cause, but many leaders will not let their followers follow. 


When people are micormanaged and or told that they cannot take on responsibilities, they are held back from expressing their God given talents and strengths. This becomes a lose-lose situation for everyone.  No leader can do it all.  If their task were intended to be done by them alone, then there is no need for their leadership and no need for followers.




The effective leader understands that more can be accomplished through delegation.  Moses once struggled with this problem.  He emotionally arrived at a place where his responsibilities (the people’s needs) became too much for him to bare.  In desperation he said to the Lord:


Num 11:14-15 MKJV

(14)  I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.

(15)  And if You are going to part this way with me, I beg You to kill meat once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and let me not see my misery.


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