This picture may sound familiar: you are a leader in your organization. You are overloaded with work, possibly burnt out, and it feels impossible to complete your tasks. If this sounds like your situation, you may be neglecting to use a critical leadership skill – delegation.
Below, we will discuss what delegative leadership is and the skills necessary to implement this approach. In addition, we will also discuss the pros and cons, along with the steps you can take to become a delegative leader.
Delegative leadership, also known as laissez-faire leadership, is a leadership style that provides a team with independence. With this approach, a leader plays a more passive role and provides their team with opportunities to make choices and handle responsibilities autonomously. Leaders who use this approach typically guide and support their team as needed but are not involved in day-to-day operations. While this can help a team become more efficient, it requires a high level of trust on both sides for this approach to work.
Delegative leadership does not come naturally; it is an amalgamation of skills gained over time and with experience. To understand if this leadership style is a good fit for you and your team, learn more about the top attributes and skills of a delegative leader below.
Oftentimes, delegative leadership offers many advantages. However, it can also cause challenges. Ahead, we dive into the cons of delegative leadership.
Depending on your values, skills and team, delegative leadership could be a good fit for you. If you are interested in becoming a delegative leader, check out the 11 steps below that you can use as a guideline to help you get started.
Knowing your team’s strengths and dynamics is a critical step to becoming a delegative leader. Understanding your team will help you become a better delegator because you can more accurately match tasks to people’s strengths.
Clear communication is essential for delegative leadership. Since these leaders are not directly involved in day-to-day operations, they must meet regularly with their teams to stay informed and aligned at all stages of projects. For example, a delegative leader should meet with their direct reports at the start of a project to discuss progress on assigned tasks and address questions they may have. Open communication is vital at all stages of a project to ensure the team feels comfortable asking questions to avoid problems.
It is critical to assign tasks to your direct reports based on each of their unique strengths and bandwidth. This action sets them up for success, helps the team become more efficient and ensures that your direct reports are working on projects where they can be successful. Ultimately, this will help lead to better outcomes for all involved.
While you may be less involved in the daily work of your team as a delegative leader, it is critical to provide your team with the training and resources needed for success. This step may include equipping team members with appropriate tools or making time to discuss the background of a project. It is also important to remember that this leadership style is hands-off but not negligent. As a leader, you should be able to recognize when your team needs help or guidance.
Setting clear boundaries and expectations is another essential step for you to take to become an effective delegative leader. To do this, create an open dialogue between you and your colleagues to establish limits and goals. Doing this can help you and your team find a mutual understanding, which can help boost team engagement.
It was mentioned that it is important to clearly communicate and be open for direct reports to communicate with you. But, it is also important to facilitate communication and monitor progress. Since you may have less involvement in a task as a delegative leader, it is paramount for you to check in with the key stakeholders of a project every once in a while to monitor progress. When you schedule time with your team to monitor the status of a project, be sure not to stifle the team’s work or seem overbearing.
As a delegative leader, you must be comfortable with team members practicing autonomy and making their own decisions. To foster a positive and collaborative work environment, encourage your team members to make independent decisions that align with project objectives and organizational standards. If your team members feel they have agency in their work, you can save time, promote innovation and build trust.
As you monitor the progress of your team’s work, you should continue to provide thoughtful feedback and recognition. By providing feedback, you can help your team grow and improve. It is also essential that you recognize your team members for their work and show that you appreciate and value their efforts.
With any leadership style, improving and growing as you gain more experience is crucial to your continued success. Evaluating what you did well as a leader and what you need to improve will help to ensure you learn from both your mistakes and your accomplishments.
Once you reflect on your previous experiences, establish your areas for continuous improvement, and create a plan for further growth. By committing to continuous improvement, you lead by example. When your team sees that you are committed to learning and changing, they will feel inspired to do the same.