Mastering the Art of Delegation

Six attributes are the hallmarks of strong leaders who know how to delegate

As a business owner or manager, you’re used to wearing many hats and taking care of things yourself. But at some point, multitasking offers diminishing rewards, and it’s time to delegate to others. If you find this difficult, chances are the problem doesn’t lie with employees it lies with you. Gallup research found that only 1 in 4 entrepreneurs is a great delegator.[1] The study, which polled 143 CEOs on the Inc. 500 list, also underscored why these leaders should work to improve in this area. Of the CEOs included in the survey, those with strong delegator talent had an average three-year growth rate of 1,751% — 112 percentage points higher than the CEOs with limited or low delegator talent.

Gallup went on to identify six key differences between leaders who delegate well and those who don’t:

  1. Great delegators know their limits. They know that passing along tasks that are within the realm of their employees’ capabilities gives them more time to focus on activities with the highest return on investment. Poor delegators risk becoming so lost in day-to-day activities that they can miss opportunities to drive their companies’ growth.
  2. Great delegators build strong teams. They take the time to understand what their people do best, and then give them tasks at which they are most likely to excel. This motivates and engages employees, increases productivity and benefits the entire business. Poor delegators often go it alone.
  3. Great delegators empower employees. They ensure that employees have everything they need to do their jobs, including tools, resources, training and learning opportunities. Poor delegators may dole out tasks without this preparation.
  4. Great delegators focus on outcomes. They set clear expectations about everything from timing to budget to deliverables, and they monitor progress. Poor delegators sometimes micromanage, leaving employees confused and frustrated.
  5. Great delegators value fresh ideas. They foster ownership and engagement by leaving the “how” up to their employees. Poor delegators hinder growth when they centralize power and insist on controlling all decision-making.
  6. Great delegators communicate. They provide feedback and recognize employees for a job well done, choosing praise over blame, which can demoralize employees and leave them unwilling to innovate.

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  1. “Delegating: A Huge Management Challenge for Entrepreneurs,” Gallup, April 2015. Retrieved from

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