[January 28, 2021] My first evaluation as an Infantry Company Commander said that I was ‘resistant to delegating authority.’ It was an insult, in my mind anyway, and an embarrassment as well. I knew that the art of leadership is not about ordering people around but finding the right people, delegating tasks to them, and giving them the freedom to get the job done.
I knew that my company would not succeed if I tried to do everything myself. Soldiers are people too, and if had tried to do their job – as well as my job – they would be happy to let me do it. Every experienced soldier knows that it would not take long before I ‘flamed out’ doing too many things at once. My capacity as a leader, I knew, should not determine the capacity of my company.
Failure was never in my wheelhouse. Because I hated failure, I quickly learned how (or was forced how) delegating my authority gained many advantages. I could now take on tasks and missions that exceeded my ability. If I had tried to do more by myself, I would not have had the expertise, and it would have been demotivating to my soldiers, a waste of time, and annoying.
Delegating authority is not magic. It is all about distributing the workload and allocating smaller tasks, spread among many team members or organizations.
The three main features of delegating authority:
- Assigning tasks: A leader assigns other team members specific tasks to be completed within a given timeframe and with a given minimum quality standard.
- Granting authority: Team members are given the authority to complete the task, to act independently, and in the name of the leader.
- Insuring Accountability: This is where the leader holds each team member accountable for their actions on the job. Usually, this is accomplished by the introduction of rules and regulations. The leader remains responsible for the overall task and thus requires feedback within the team.
There are many advantages to the delegating of authority. Any given task or mission can be performed better, faster, with higher quality, and less disruption. Subordinates learn that they are useful and essential, and this helps provide motivation. Delegating also helps subordinates learn about leadership and gain technical knowledge about the task. And by delegating, it leads to better relationships.
Tomorrow, I’ll offer up steps in the delegation process.