Give Your Team the Freedom to Perform

Understanding the nature of authentic, effective authority and power is inherent in empowering a team and practicing effective delegation. True power involves leading through character, example, and intellectual challenge. Personal power is strengthened and multiplies through surrendering it and investing it in others.

The most successful, powerful leaders in any organization are those who learn to delegate effectively, who surround themselves with competent people and then allow those people freedom to do the job. These leaders respect their people and their potential and liberate them to do what they do best, in their own way. This approach is difficult for those who have been conditioned to believe that effective action is accomplished by a group of people acting in a clone-like manner – behaving just as the leader would – rather than as individuals. Leaders who excessively control people destroy opportunities, along with one of the most important assets of team members: self-confidence.

Use the following ideas to develop appropriate attitudes for delegation effectiveness:

  • Flexibility – Delegation must be accompanied by flexibility. Allow people to test new ideas, and you will enjoy the rewards of unexpected, innovative results. People will respond to situations and clients in ways more effective than you could have dreamed. Avoid the trap of overly standardized methods. When you adopt a flexible, adaptive attitude, delegation motivates and encourages others to take responsibility for thinking creatively about how and why they follow certain procedures. A flexible work environment enables workers to eliminate unnecessary steps and spend time only on activities that add value for the customer.
  • Self-confidence – Self-confidence is the foundation for delegation without fear. Self-confidence gives you the freedom to share necessary information and resources to empower others through delegation. Self-confidence frees you to expect your team members to perform as well or better than you. One common reason leaders withhold authority and responsibility from other team members is the fear of being replaced or unneeded. This attitude sacrifices progress of the whole group. A manager who has a deep need for personal power and the dependence of others often expects or demands unquestioning obedience – an expectation fatal to effective teamwork and maximum productivity. To free your time for the highest productivity, look for appropriate opportunities to delegate. You reinforce the ability and worth of your team members and build a reputation as an energetic person who focuses effort and time on maximum payoff activities. Find contributions you can make that no one else has the ability to perform. Delegate the rest. In this way, you maximize your strengths and also meet the needs of those to whom you report. A person consumed with the passion for finding new, creative, measurable ways to contribute to the organization will always be a vital, valuable team member.
  • Focus on results – Develop consistent thought habits of believing that others are competent, intelligent, and capable of achievement. Believe that “different” is not necessarily undesirable. Judge results rather than methods when you delegate. Set appropriate standards of excellence for yourself and your team members. The 80/20 principle operates in connection with delegation. When you remember that 80 percent of the results you obtain come from 20 percent of your activities, it is easier to accept less than perfection in some relatively unimportant areas.
  • Team commitment – True heroes are team members who earn respect, involvement, and results through behind-the-scenes, consistent dedication to group goals. Taking credit for the work of others, not listening to their ideas, and working solo – these are all symptoms of a mistaken belief that effective leaders must always be unquestionably in control to command and inspire results from others. Release control of the activities you delegate to others. Constantly eliminate activities that minimize, undermine, or second-guess the work of other team members. To teach others how to make good decisions, involve team members in the process of making decisions. Permit others to make as many decisions for themselves as possible. Commit yourself to team empowerment and allow others to succeed and excel.


Leadership Management® Institute
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

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