The 20% Rule: A New Leader’s Guide to Delegating

tip tuesday


If you’re keeping track, our last blog highlighted two essential tools in any leader’s toolbox to manage your busy schedule successfully.  The first was multitasking.  This week’s tip will focus on the second tool, delegating.  Delegating is a fierce resource that helps to separate effective and ineffective leaders.  Specifically, the ability to let go of certain tasks is so important in this role.  

So, how does it work?  How can a leader effectively use delegation in their role?  To start, look through your “to do” list to identify what indeed requires your attention.  These are things that need strategic focus or your distinct expertise.  Now, before you select these things, ask yourself whether this is a chance to impart your wisdom to someone else as a growth opportunity by showing them how to do this task.  For example, do you really have to create that report, or can you show someone on your team how to do it?  Once they become proficient, you can make it part of their work and permanently move it off of your buffet bar of things to accomplish.  

To be fair, there will be several things that cannot be delegated.  But I challenge you to examine and reexamine how much you need to do something versus someone else.  Ask yourself, “do I really have to do this?”  If so, why? Are those “why’s” worth the time investment or are they simply excuses that I’ve created to feel validated about doing this work?  Since you’re not sharing your answers with anyone, you can be brutally honest.  Based on your answer, decide how best to proceed. If you genuinely have to do it, so be it.  Allocate time to get it done.  But if you can assign this work to someone else, run, don’t walk to transition the task.  Even if it can be done by someone else, and then you review/approve it, it is still a time win because you were able to reallocate the time you would have spent doing the work.  Now, you only need time (probably a quarter of the time you would have spent) simply reviewing and approving the work.  

To start, look to delegate at least 20% of your work.  Things like reports, presentation prep, editing documents, staff scheduling, budget management are some examples of things that could potentially be delegated. As you get more and more comfortable with trusting others with parts of your work, you should increase the percentage of delegation.  The more senior you become, the more you will need to rely on delegation as an approach to getting work done. So, get comfortable with it and lose the mentality of having to do everything.  Trust me, you will thank yourself later for harnessing this skill.

Before you go, share this article with a leader you know who struggles with delegating. Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *