The Art of Delegation Through Empowerment
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
Harry S. Truman
Picture the USS Santa Fe: a submarine that runs on nuclear power and the work of more than a hundred sailors on board. The territory and mission of the Santa Fe are high-stress and high-stake. But people’s lives were already in danger because the Santa Fe is plagued by the ineptitude of its own crew. It was, hands down, the worst ship in the U.S. Navy fleet.
But guess what: The captain was able to do the seemingly impossible and managed to turn the ship around. How he did it was mainly through effective delegation. Once he learned how to empower each member of the crew to make decisions and be responsible for their actions, the Santa Fe became known as the best ship around, winning awards and gaining the respect of the naval force.
The brand of leadership that completely changed the course of a nuclear-powered submarine offers relevant lessons for leaders in the corporate world. By learning the art of delegation through empowerment, executives, managers and supervisors can build high-performing organizations in today’s high-stress, high-stake business climate.
Delegation empowers employees through accountability. When you give them the opportunity to make important decisions, the permission to improve processes, and the encouragement to take ownership of their job or project, you can expect the following results:
- – They receive the chance to sharpen their skills and build their experience.
- – They give each task their very best, since no one but them is chiefly responsible for its success.
- – The organization benefits from the successes and growth of each member.
- – You, as a boss, will experience the various advantages of delegation, including having the time and energy to do strategic-level tasks and achieving better results due to improved team efficiency and productivity.
However, if you’re too much of a perfectionist, you have a tendency to micro-manage, or you have difficulty transferring tasks to others (even subordinates), delegation can be a tricky course to take at first. Don’t worry – many leaders have these problems, too. Fortunately, being able to delegate effectively and in a way that empowers employees is an acquired skill. Armed with a good and realistic strategy, you can gradually bring changes to the way you do things at work as well as the company culture (culture plays a key role) until empowered delegation becomes the norm rather than a new or “innovative” thing to do in your organization.
To delegate effectively, effective communication is a must — especially when you’re still introducing the concept. It’s important to set expectations and explain why and how the process will go. You need to be clear about the roles that are open for delegation or the tasks that you want your people to manage on their own, with your support, of course.
Remember that delegation is not about relinquishing your authority or responsibilities for the outcome of each project. In fact, the more you delegate, the more you would want to provide your support and trust as a leader, so employees will have the resources and counsel they need to get things done all by themselves.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)
Recommended Reading: “Turn The Ship Around” by L. David Marquet