Leadership, Delegation, and Working Remotely

Great leaders tend to be terrific delegators. It’s not a very high-profile topic — it’s more appealing to talk about vision, innovation, or inspiring others — and delegation usually happens quietly, out of the limelight.

Where else, however, does the time, energy, and focus come from for leaders to engage in strategic thinking and work on major, forward-looking initiatives? How else do leaders have the opportunity to energize and motivate people and get things done for their organizations? Delegation!

With remote work becoming more and more embedded within organizations here are three approaches to delegation that are especially important in a WFH (work from home) environment. For more, read Arden Coaching’s articles, “Build Leadership Skills with 4 Keys to Effective Delegation,” and “Learning to Delegate Well: A Necessary Skill for an Effective Leader.”

1. Let Go of the Check-Box Stuff

Sometimes it just feels good to check things off your to-do list. Doing relatively “easy” got-to-get-it-done assignments can be satisfying and make us feel like we’re accomplishing something.

But is arranging the logistics for your department’s next all-staff meeting, or posting sales notes and updating the sales pipeline in your CRM platform really the best use of your time? Of course not. So do your best to let go, and delegate any work that can be defined and systematized. Yes, what you’ll have left is the more difficult, bigger-picture work, but that’s what leaders want — time to focus on truly important and significant work for their organizations.

2. Don’t Be So Skeptical

Trust is the basic building block of leadership — and delegation. If it’s possible, trust is even more important to leadership and delegation when you are engaged with work-from-home employees and team members. So, assume the best in each other. Things happen. In this new, blended work/life setting, sometimes it takes longer to pick up a child from school, or the dog gets sick, or the internet goes down, and a promised report is late in arriving. 

Too often, we assume the worst. We leap to the conclusion that someone has done lackluster work, or missed a deliverable because they are slacking off or do not care (or are looking for another job! Read “Leadership and the ‘Great Resignation’”). While setting expectations and being held accountable are very important, delegation will be much more productive if you start by assuming that there is a reasonable reason something is late, was missed, or is poorly executed.

What else may keep us from delegating? Read “The Untold Tale of Why We Don’t Delegate.”

3. Delegate for Outcomes

Trust also leads to our biggest consideration: delegate with outcomes in mind, not task-oriented steps. The more you are able to delegate work based on results, and the more your employees understand the “why” behind the work, the more effective your delegation will be — and the more enjoyable and engaging the work will be for your employees.

That’s because you will not be micro-managing every step. You are leaving people to exercise their knowledge and creativity to deliver a final product that meets a need. Delegating for outcomes and results removes the step-by-step delegation (and stress) that often results in the perception that a person is not performing at the same pace or in the same way that you would have done the job. And your employees will likely surprise you with analysis, recommendations, and approaches to their work that you would not have thought of yourself!

To learn more about delegation, and leading in remote work environments, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.