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Want to Be a Better Leader? Delegate Effectively

One of the greatest traits of a good leader is the gift of discernment — especially when delegating tasks and depending on his or her team to complete those tasks.

In a family of action-takers and leaders, I was delegated tasks to complete. However, as I take on more leadership positions, I’m learning the importance of delegation and making sure it’s effective. According to Entrepreneurship in a Box, “the delegation process is transferring the responsibility for the tasks from you to another person through notifying that person. When you tell the person about what they need to do, you need to tell them your clear expectations.”

As chief of staff, my most difficult transition was the move from solely doing, to doing while leading. It was easy for me to hold on to work and it felt safer to do things myself instead of delegating tasks. After reading a great article, I had a shift in mindset. The author and leadership expert, John Maxwell, once proclaimed that “if you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”

Hence, learning to effectively delegate has allotted me more time to tackle more tasks. Plus, it has allowed our office to provide more people with the resources they need. It also provided opportunities for my staff to learn new skills and gain contacts to help them grow professionally as they continue to build their own network.

Here are three tactics to take to make sure you’re delegating effectively.

Hire staff you can trust. Then trust them.

During the process of hiring staff, it was very important for me to find team members who were trustworthy. I needed a person who worked independently, someone who was proactive about getting the job done and who could get the job done even in my absence.

When you hire staff, make sure you know exactly what you need to be successful. If you inherit staff and decide to keep them, make sure you clearly communicate your expectations. This is not only for them to thrive in their roles, but also for you to become a successful leader.

Start with why, and provide the tools.

I do my best to explain each project to my team and ensure that the delegated staff members understand the importance of the project. If there is a lack of understanding, people are less likely to care. When delegating, make sure your people understand the importance of each task. This helps to connect the person to the task and build ownership of the work.

After ensuring that the mission and vision are communicated and people feel connected to the cause, provide the tools they need to be successful at their job. For example, a person who has been instructed to make wellness calls to seniors needs a phone number separate from their personal number to protect their privacy. Be available to provide support.

Use an online productivity system.

What I found most challenging was making sure I communicated tasks for delegation. The state representative and I have so many ideas. I get excited and start them myself while forgetting to delegate other important tasks that also need to be completed. These undelegated tasks are then unfortunately added to my forever growing to-do list.

I needed a solution, especially since working remotely. I researched systems that would best fit my needs. For instance, I needed the system to be easy to operate, have an ongoing list of tasks, have the ability to access tasks remotely via a mobile app and enable me to ask questions when I needed support. The system that I found most adequate for my needs was an operating system called Asana. All three of my needs were met, and plus, it was free.

There are multiple operating systems and ways to organize that are equally as great as Asana. Find one that suits your needs.

I realized that delegation is work that takes time to master effectively. During my quest to find ways to increase my skill set, I spoke to other people in leadership. They helped me understand that it’s one of those things that everyone works towards perfecting. So whatever the needs are in your office, I encourage you to use one of these tips or find a system that works best for you to ensure that all work is completed by all members of the team.

Dulana Reese is a Mississippi native living and thriving in Chicago. She serves as the Chief of Staff for State Representative Kam Buckner. In this capacity, she supports the representative by building relationships with community stakeholders, inspiring their team to go above and beyond, ensuring the community’s voices are heard, and playing various roles on campaigns. She graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies and earned a master’s in Public Service Management from DePaul University. In her spare time, she loves a good Netflix binge, reading, listening to music and practicing the harmonica. 

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