The Seven Deadly Sins of Delegation

Being great at delegating can make a big difference to your workload, stress levels and how you develop your team... but are you making these delegation mistakes? 

Delegating effectively saves time, reduces your workload and stress levels, ensures individual skills and resources are utilised, gives your team chances to develop and is vital for succession planning. But we often don’t delegate as much as we should. 

How do you know if you need to delegate more?  

Here are some signs:

  • You’re struggling to get through your to do list 
  • You’re lacking time to focus on your priorities 
  • You’re working in a very reactivr way and fighting fires 
  • Your team rarely step out of their routine responsibilities 
  • The organisation or your team would be completely lost if you moved on 


Although delegating is important, it’s also something that many managers and leaders struggle with. 

Why is this? Often it’s due to what I like to call the Seven Deadly Sins of Delegation... 


Seven Deadly Sins of Delegation  


1: Having “I Can Do It Quicker Myself” Syndrome 

Anyone with this syndrome rarely delegates because they feel that by the time they’ve explained it to someone else, they might as well as have done it themselves.  

Overcome this by being more strategic with delegating and make sure you pick the right tasks and people to delegate to. If you’re struggling with this, choose a small task to delegate that doesn’t take much time to explain.  

2: Finding it Uncomfortable to Delegate 

For some, delegating can feel deeply awkward and uncomfortable. These feelings are attached to the belief that delegating is like asking someone to do your work for you. This often happens to newly promoted managers.  

Remind yourself that delegating is actually a way of developing the skills of your team and allowing you all to work more effectively together.  

3: Being a Control Freak 

Being a control freak is a barrier to delegation because of the mindset “no one else can do it as well as me.” Sometimes that may be true but that still doesn't mean you’re the best person to do it. 

Leaders who try to control everything have an unmanageable to do list, they don’t give their team a chance to develop and spend more time in reactive mode instead of having time and space to be strategic and make a bigger impact.  


4: Being a Disempowering Delegator 

A disempowering delegator often has the disappointing “they didn’t do it right” results with their team. This is usually due to mismatched expectations or not explaining how the task should be completed when delegating to junior colleagues – they are not mind readers!  

On the flipside of this, you can also disempower and demotivate senior colleagues by not delegating with trust and confidence when asking them to lead on a project. Consciously choose your delegation style depending on who you’re delegating to.  


 5: Always being 

This is you if you only delegate when you’ve run out of time to complete a task or project. The closest colleague with the most time gets handed the baton with a rushed brief and not enough time to do their best work.  

Being more strategic about your delegation will solve this Deadly Sin! 


6: Only Partially Delegating 

Delegation works best when the person being delegated to has full agency over the task or project. Delegating half a project leads to frustration on both sides - from the manager who remains stuck in the weeds of the project and the colleague who has no control or authority.  

Try to identify what projects you feel comfortable delegating fully and start with those.  


 7: Having a Boomerang Project 

This is when something is delegated but keeps bouncing back to the manager. They might be constantly chasing their team member to get their tasks done or having to regularly help with the project.  

If you’re experiencing boomerang delegation, look at whether the person and project are the right fit, how clear your communication is and whether you need step into your authority more as a leader. 


Which sin (or sins) are you most guilty of? What can you do change your mindset or actions to make the most of delegating for you and your team?  

Listen to the full episode on the Influence & Impact podcast on Carla’s websiteAppleSpotify or Stitcher 

For more articles on the issues that impact women leaders at work follow Carla Miller on LinkedIn

Find out about the various ways Carla works with women leaders and organisations on her website


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