Executive Master of Leadership Blog

Delegative Leadership Style: Be Unstoppable with Effective Delegation

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 4, 2018 3:25:29 PM / by USC Price


Think of a time when you delegated an assignment that worked. What in the delegation process influenced that outcome? Next, think of a time when you delegated an assignment that did not work. What in the delegation process influenced that outcome? Be unstoppable in the workplace with the fundamentals of delegative leadership.

Part of any well designed leadership development plan is using leadership development tools to learn more about yourself. Delegation is an essential leadership and management skill. Before learning how to delegate, take 60 seconds to discover your delegation style.

Discover your Delegation Style


How to Delegate Effectively

Your Delegator Profile


How to Delegate

Delegation is an essential leadership skill and feedback is a critical component of professional development and job performance. A 2017 study shows delegation is, "an effective way of encouraging subordinates to seek feedback, because it is psychologically empowering." To delegate work effectively, great leaders should:

  1. Identify the right assignment.
  2. Consider the circumstances, organizational expectations, individual assignments, responsibilities, and the task to be performed.
  3. Recruit the right person.
  4. Provide the right direction and information.
  5. Support the performance through supervision, problem-solving and reflective learning.

The Delegation Style Inventory

Assess how much emphasis you place on the following phases of the delegation process.

  1. Planning, the preparation you do prior to explaining an assignment and the delegation of duties to your employee.
  2. Control, how much discretion do you allow your employee to have and how do you delegate authority.
  3. Preparation, obtaining the employee's thoughts on how to do a task and then agreeing to do it.
  4. Partnership, emphasis placed on supporting the employee during the delegation process.
  5. Initiative, how much flexibility the employee has in doing a task.


What type of delegator are you?

Discover your style of delegation in 60 seconds or less. Take our Delegating Leadership Style Self-Assessment.

Discover your Delegation Style


 Four Delegating Leadership Styles

delegating-tasks-what-is-delegationThe Director Style of Delegation

The director focuses on planning and outcomes.

Director Style Strengths

  • excellence in planning, assessing risks, and providing resources
  • informing, teaching, knowing people, and coaching employees
  • doing abstract problem solving
  • being proactive, goal-oriented, and understanding the situation

Director Style Weaknesses

  • a lack of support and coordination
  • a lack of practical problem solving
  • impatience and limiting of the delegates 
  • not listening well and an inability to understand the delegate's problems
  • not enough attention to details and a tendency toward inflexibility

Want to learn more? Discover 5 Ways to Delegate Tasks like a Director.


laissez-faire-leadership-style-delegative-leadershipThe Learner Style of Delegation

A delegator with a learner style is someone who is a controller, someone who micromanages and cannot relate a goal.

Learner Style Strengths

  • good attention to detail
  • understanding risk assessment
  • being informed, responsible, proactive, specific, protective, being a problem solver, and resolving conflicts
  • staying in touch and paying attention

Learner Style Weaknesses

  • being rigid, controlling, and dominating
  • not sharing and lacking trust
  • not teaching and being weak in support
  • granting little authority and not allowing freedom to act
  • punishing, not allowing mistakes, and giving no credit


The Mentor Style of Delegation

The mentor focuses on building a good partnerships and empowering the delegate. The negative side of this is a lack of taking control, potentially leaving the delegate without enough direction.

Mentor Style Strengths

  1. builds good partnerships and sees the promise of independent success
  2. empowers delegates by providing resources, feedback, and positive affirmations
  3. draws out greatness by providing motivation and incentives

Mentor Style Weaknesses

  1. sometimes lacks control, leaving the delegate without enough direction
  2. requires buy-in from the employee to enter a mentor-mentee relationship
  3. camaraderie can obfuscate the manager-employee hierarchy

Learn More: 5 Principles of Effective Delegation in Management


delegative-leadership-styleThe Gambler Style

The gambler style focuses on the action.

Gambler Style Strengths

  • being a people person and running interference when required
  • taking time, listening, and providing support
  • being constructive, responsible, and a solver of immediate problems
  • giving credit and emphasizing initiative

Gambler Style Weaknesses

  • poor planning and lack of context
  • weak on resources and having a short attention span
  • poor strategic problem solver and having firefighter tendencies
  • being reactive, impulsive, and emotional
  • weak on risk assessment, and lacking in thought


Discover your Delegation Style


Delegation Skills: 10 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Task

As a delegate, ask yourself these questions before you accept the task.

  1. What is the delegated task?
  2. Does the task have a well-defined goal? What is it?
  3. What demands will this task place on my time and resources? How will it affect my existing workload?
  4. Is there any additional information, training or support that I would need to be prepared to perform the task?
  5. Are there any inherent risks?
  6. What are the downsides of handling this task?
  7. What support will I need from other team members in order to effectively carry out this task?
  8. How will my team members be made aware of my level of authority, so that they can be supportive?
  9. Who will inform my teammates of this assignment?
  10. When will I meet the delegator for regular feedback sessions?


Delegation in Management: 13 Questions to Ask Before Delegating a Task

Managers must delegate work to develop employees. Before delegating tasks, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the existing situation, and how will completing this task change the existing situation?
  2. What restrictions may interfere with the task?
  3. Realistically, how soon must this task be completed?
  4. What generally are the budget and available resources for achieving the task?
  5. What skills and knowledge are needed for the task?
  6. Who among my available candidates has the skills and knowledge I need?
  7. Does the delegate need any additional training?
  8. What other kinds of support will be necessary?
  9. What are some of the checkpoints in which to follow up on delegated tasks and review progress on the project, reports, approvals, etc?
  10. What are the specific responsibilities, deliverables, files, et cetera that I will be transferring to the delegate?
  11. What level of authority will I be giving the delegate during the course of completing the task?
  12. What strategies will I employ in order to maintain successful ongoing communication with the delegate?
  13. When will the delegate and I meet for regular feedback sessions?


Effective Delegation

The ideal delegator knows how much free rein the delegate can properly use, fits his or her communication and supervision processes to the needs and skill level of the delegate, and constantly adjusts his or her delegation style.

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Topics: Leadership Styles, Leadership Skills

USC Price

Written by USC Price

The USC Price School of Public Policy's Executive Master of Leadership degree program is designed for experienced professionals ready to take their leadership to the next level.

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