How to Delegate: Tips for Army Officers

Today, I want to talk to you about delegating.

I want to share some tips with you about HOW to delegate.

Delegating is defined as “to entrust a task or responsibility to another person; typically one who is less senior than yourself.”

If I had to put it in my own words, I would describe it as “empowering the people who work for you to handle important tasks.”

Without a doubt, “delegating work” is one of the greatest struggles for most military leaders.

I struggled with this concept myself for many years because I frequently believed that no one could do a task as good as I could.

Chuck was by no means a perfectionist, but I was a high achiever, and I realized that most people are not.

I figured if no one could do a task as well as I could, it would be much easier just to do it myself, rather than try to explain everything to them.

Fortunately, as a senior Lieutenant, one of my mentors sat me down and told me that “the Army pays leaders to get things done through other people.  Your job as a leader is not to do all of the work yourself, but to make sure that the work gets done.”

This lesson took a while to sink in, but I finally figured it out.

It didn’t mean that I didn’t need to work hard.

It just meant that “much of my work” could be delegated.delegate

You have to realize that you have people working for you for a reason.

Your job is to challenge them, to stretch them out of their comfort zone, and give them new challenges.

If you try to do everything yourself, you are robbing them of this opportunity, and not doing your job!

My challenge to you is to take out a sheet of paper at the start of each work day.

Make a list of everything that needs to get done that day.

Next, rank each task in order of importance.

Once you’ve finished doing that, circle the CRITICAL tasks that only you can do.

This shouldn’t be more than 1/3 of your total tasks.

For every other task, write the name of the person you will assign it to.

If you have one subordinate, this should be simple.

If you have several subordinates, share the love.

Meet with each person face to face (if possible) and explain the task to them.

Tell them what you expect (task, condition, standards), answer their questions and give them the resources they need to succeed.

And don’t forget to give them a deadline either.

This should free up more of your time to pursue other tasks such as (1) creating a vision for your organization, (2) establishing new priorities, (3) doing the work that you can’t delegate, (4) counseling and developing your subordinates, and (5) supporting your team members by answering their questions and giving them guidance.

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On a side note, I would like to clarify a few things.

First of all, you can never delegate your responsibility.

As a leader, you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens (or fails to happen) in your section/organization, even the work that others do.

Also, I’m not encouraging you to be lazy.

You still need to work hard and set the standard.

Finally, you must realize that your REAL job is to make sure the work gets done AND to support the people on your team.

Your people don’t work for you.

You work for them!

It’s your job to motivate, train, encourage and support them, not the other way around.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that all military leaders need to delegate some of their work.

The Army pays you to make sure things get done, not to do everything yourself.

Simply put, you get paid to get things done through other people.

You need to identify which tasks only you can do and which tasks can be delegated.

Delegate every task that you can and make sure you give clear guidance, instructions and support to the people who work for you.

What do you think about delegating?

What are some of your best tips?

Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

I look forward to hearing from you.

1 thought on “How to Delegate: Tips for Army Officers”

  1. This is a great way to figure out what you can and cannot delegate. It is very important as a leader that you delegate responsibilities. That is what great leaders do. I believe as a leader, it is your job to know your subordinates, and what jobs they will be best at doing. I also believe it is always best to ask them to do it instead of telling them. This gives them the sense that they are working with you and not being slaves.

    Very good post in delegating responsibilities Chuck!

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