Can You Delegate? Five Questions to Ask Yourself

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Have you recently taken over a leadership role and found it difficult to ask team members to complete tasks? You don’t want to seem too bossy, and you worry you are burdening busy people with extra work. You end up doing everything yourself because you feel personally responsible, or because it feels easier that way.

The truth is, delegating tasks to others is one of the best things you can do as a leader. It’s actually selfish not to share the workload. When members feel they are making a solid contribution to a club or organization such as Toastmasters, they are more likely to stay actively engaged.

Can You Delegate? Five Questions to Ask Yourself:

1. Do you know what your members' talents and passions are?

Everyone is good at something. Find out what that something is and use it. If a member suggests an improvement, ask that person to lead the effort. Why? Because if it was their idea, they are already invested in the outcome. It is for he who cares to do the job. If you are struggling to organize information about your club, ask a member who likes to work with spreadsheets to assist you. He or she will love you for it!

2. Do you assign individuals to action items?

During an executive committee meeting, officers agree it would be a great idea to reach out to the local community college to publicize Toastmasters. Although all agree, it never happens. Everyone hopes that someone will do it, yet “someone” usually ends up being “no one.” It is up to the President of the club to ask a specific officer, usually the VPM or VPPR to complete this task. Casting a broad net for volunteers seldom works. It’s more effective to reel in an individual by demonstrating your faith in them.

3. Are your expectations clear?

Many of us have worked for someone who rambles on and on, explaining more than necessary. We don’t want to be rude, yet we feel like shouting, “Just tell me what you want!” People don’t mind expectations as long as they are clear and doable. Nor is it bossy to give a due date. Having a due date reduces stress and helps us to manage our time.

4. Do you provide equal opportunities for growth?

Do you have a member who has been covering the same task for years? If you worry the person will be offended by passing the job to someone else, explain it will be for their fellow member’s benefit to learn the job.

5. Can you accept and appreciate the effort even if it wasn’t done the way you would have done it?

I learned this the hard way after my daughter said she didn’t want to load the dishwasher because I always re-loaded it. If you assign a task and it was done sufficiently well, find something to praise about it and let the rest go. It builds the person’s confidence as well as enthusiasm for doing more.

Yes, you can delegate!

As Ronald Reagan said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Successful delegation gives your members the opportunity to shine which in turn makes your entire club or organization successful.

About the Author 

Kathy Brennan

After retiring from careers as a special education teacher, information technology developer & analyst, and government policy writer, I joined Toastmasters to gain public speaking experience to obtain gigs as an entertaining speaker. As a result of this decision, two unexpected things happened. By day I am an ascending leader in the Toastmasters organization with as much opportunity as I can handle. By night I am a stand-up comedian performing as often as maintaining a 42-year marriage with a patient husband will allow.

We have a daughter who lives in New Jersey and is employed as a project manager with ISKME, a nonprofit educational foundation. Her brother is on the opposite coast, steadily working his way up as a film editor in Los Angeles.

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