A business case for effective delegation to others

Sam Harrowfield

I’m sitting at my workstation looking at my list of things to execute. 

There is more to do than time allows. 

Some of these items could probably be done by someone else. 

One task in particular is a dead cert to be handed off to a team member, but I know what’s involved practically to get it done and I trust myself to execute it effectively and efficiently. 

Yet behind that task languishing on a notepad is the power to realise extraordinary potential in another team member and in the business as a whole.


What is delegation?

Delegation is assigning to a team member or a group the responsibility for completion of a whole unit of work with the power to act, make decisions or allocate resources on your behalf.  

Some people put delegation into the ‘too hard’ basket, but delegating isn’t difficult.  It simply involves understanding what you can delegate, how to assign units of work with clear expectations, and how to follow up to ensure the work is on track.

Why is delegation so important?

When you sense that you’re falling behind on your responsibilities and finding it challenging to complete your work within regular business hours, you face a decision: either extend your working hours or opt for delegation. Mastering the art of delegation offers advantages for both yourself, your team, and the organisation.

Delegation frees up time for the delegator

No leader can do all things at all times. They need to choose to do the most important things at the most optimal times.

The Harvard Business Review published an article based on research into the law profession, indicating that partners who delegate effectively are able to free up time and earn 20% more than they would otherwise. [1]

Delegation increases a leader’s chances of finishing important projects on time which means hitting key goals sooner.  

Delegation boosts organisational performance and efficiency

You increase the efficiency of the organisation by allowing those who are better at the task than you are to take over and get more done.

Gallup research shows that leaders who have a propensity for effective delegation can create better business growth and success than those who can get bogged down in the detailed routines of operating an enterprise. [2]

The fact is, business outcomes differ based on our tendency to delegate or not. It may seem daunting, however the data suggests that delegation is a critical step on the way to winning, whatever form winning takes for you.  

Delegation increases productivity

The role of a manager or project leader is to get the highest return on your investment in the people doing the work. Learning how to delegate is not just about maximising your own value to the organisation; it is also about getting the most value out of your team.

People who are being productive tend to be more engaged which can translate into a longer term commitment to your organisation.

Delegation builds trust

Leaders who delegate well build relationships of trust with their team.

Leaders who don’t delegate adequately often have team members who are afraid to show initiative or who feel apprehensive about bringing forward ideas and this can be frustrating for any business seeking to build an innovative culture.  They are not sure it’s safe to put their thinking out there. 

It is natural to want to wait for team members to show they are trustworthy before handing new duties to them; however, when leaders trust first, team members are more likely to reciprocate.

Delegation drives engagement

When employees truly feel that their skills and talents are being put to good use and they are growing, they are more engaged and satisfied in their roles overall.

With engagement continuously being linked to employee retention and motivation, delegation is a top priority for leaders at all levels of a business. 

Delegation empowers employees by giving them greater autonomy and enabling them to demonstrate their capability to take on new work.

When individuals step outside of their typical day-to-day activities and have the chance to be challenged, take on new tasks or get involved in decision-making, they become more invested in the outcome of their delegated responsibilities.


In essence, delegation is good for business. It’s great in theory, a little time consuming at times in practice, but it can ultimately lead to significant organisational outcomes that stretch beyond a healthy balance sheet.

[1] “Delegating More Can Increase Your Earnings” by Thomas N. Hubbard, Harvard Business Review (2016).

[2] “Delegating: A Huge Management Challenge for Entrepreneurs” by Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal and Bryant Ott, Gallup.com (2015)

Harrowfield People Development is a strategic learning agency. We help business leaders who are unsure how to grow the people they want to hold on to, for the purposes of engagement, productivity and retention. 

We provide 1 – 1 and team training in people skills capability, using the lens of organisational and behavioural psychology. We help teams of any size to understand each other for great collaboration. We also get asked to help encourage ideal behaviours by defining organisational culture – helping clients to articulate their purpose, vision, mission and values. 

Talk to us today to discuss your key people-related challenges and opportunities.

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