Delegate like a CEO

08.01.2021 |

Episode #8 of the course How to lead in tough times by Frank McKinley


Can you imagine a CEO getting their hands dirty in a warehouse?

Most don’t. Why? Is it because they’re too good for the task?

No, it’s because they know they need to spend time doing work only they can do.

There are three reasons leaders delegate.

First, they can’t do everything themselves. A busy warehouse needs some to receive, some to sell, and others to fill orders. Just like your body has many parts working together, team members play different roles to accomplish a larger purpose.

Second, when you share the work, you multiply your effectiveness. Many hands get more done. The better those hands, the better the outcome.

Third, you build a team with trust. Give people responsibility. Hold them accountable. Reward them for work well done. Help people shine and they’ll thank you for it.

Now let’s look at how to delegate like a CEO.


Go Public

Everyone should know everyone’s roles and responsibilities. When you track progress publicly, people will want their numbers to look good.

When things get lopsided, people with more time can help those who fall behind. Keep this temporary by reviewing what happened, what caused it, and what needs to change to shift things back to normal.


Make It Fit

Delegate responsibility based on the person’s ability. For entry-level workers, do this:

1. Explain what needs to be done.

2. Detail how to do it.

3. Follow up to ensure they’re making progress and finish on time.

For someone with more experience, approach it like this:

1. Tell them what needs to be done.

2. Let them figure out the best way to do it.

3. Follow up to see how it went.

People aren’t one-size-fits-all. Honor people where they are, and they’ll honor you with their best performance.


Keep Track

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just trust people to do their work?

Some will, but not all. Track everyone. Assume nothing. List each person’s role, responsibilities, and performance.

Don’t use this as a weapon against people. Guilt works sometimes. Growth works better. People will fail. Treat it as a learning opportunity. Your goal is to improve people, not bully them.

If repeated attempts fail, assign them to something that fits better.


Have a Reference Library

A leader’s job is to set the standard.

Don’t be a walking library. Create a reference space people can access for answers to common questions like:

• How to process an order

• How to receive freight

• How to do a return

• Workplace rules and standards

• Company goals and metrics

• Progress reports for the day, week, month, and year

The sooner people can get their questions answered, the better for everyone.


Follow Up

When you assign a new task, check progress periodically. Then you can answer questions, see what’s completed, and make any needed adjustments.

In routine tasks, have people check a box or send you a progress report.

If your team is large, have the team leaders compile reports.

Don’t assume work is being done. Get proof. You can’t fix problems unless you know about them.


Now Do This

Find a task you can delegate.

Assign it to someone you can trust. Give them these details:

1. What you want to be done

2. How to do it (with appropriate details)

3. How long it should take

4. The deadline, and how often

The more you delegate, the more you can focus on work that is hard.

Next time we’ll look at the fine art of hiring and firing. Until then, lead well!


Recommended book

If You Want It Done Right, You Don’t Have to Do It Yourself!: The Power of Effective Delegation by Donna Genett


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