There are six styles of delegating.  Each successive style is supported by the ones preceding it.  With each progression responsibility and authority is moving gradually from the leader to the follower.  You should only move to the next level of delegation when both parties are confident to progress.  You can think of the styles as instructions that you, as leader, give your follower.  The six styles are:

  1. Look into the problem, report all the facts.  The leader decides what to do.
  2. Learn the alternatives for action and recommend one to the leader.
  3. Let the leader know what you intend to do, and await the leader’s approval.
  4. Let the leader know what you intend to do; do it unless the leader forbids it.
  5. Take action and let the leader know.
  6. Take action, no further contact required with the leader.

The principles of delegating, for any of the above styles are:

  1. Decide what the task is to be delegated. 
  2. Decide who the task can be delegated to.  In theory you can delegate any task, except for those that are part of your unique contribution.  For example, you may choose to retain tasks that require a certain level of accountability or are confidential.
  3. Check your follower’s level of competence to do the job and desire to do it.
  4. Define and agree the job.  This means agreeing with the follower, the output to be achieved, the indicators of success and the activities to be carried out.  Also define the limits of the follower’s responsibility and authority in relation to this task.
  5. Delegate the task using one of the 6 styles above.  Make sure that both parties are aware of the style that is being used.  This will include agreeing beforehand, the level and frequency of progress reviews to be held.
  6. On completion of the task, review and evaluate the success of the delegation and clarify the level of support required for the next time this task is due.  Celebrate success.  Decide what else can be delegated.

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