Who wants to volunteer? You should not be delegating constantly… there is people that want to take ownership without you giving orders.

I will take care about it

Many people express a desire for challenges but rarely see the ones they have in front of them… for free

Whenever you mention that your team’s workload is too high and that you cannot commit to anything else, most people love to state that you are not delegating enough (they will usually share you a story where they made the same mistake previously…). While delegating is a marvelous tool for a leader of any kind, it may end up looking as micromanagement if you are not fully convinced about it (the usual thought that if you want something done right, you are the one to do it) or worse, if you had just chosen the wrong person to delegate on.

One of the things that has shocked me many times is people willing to take ownership. Almost always, that person is a perfect delegate, but as the decision has come from their side, most mistakenly think this is not a delegation while it certainly is (it just does not come from you).

The thing about these people is that they act on their behalf, concentrating not only the will to help, but also the actual knowledge to make things happen. It may not be a technical folk, but may have the required leadership skills to get a group of people working together towards a solution.

If you have people like that in your team, don’t feel the need of making them delegates for everything (really common mistake) as that could end up biting you in the back. Instead, try to involve them on communications for projects that will likely end up needing someone responsible to follow up til completion. This way you are actually preparing them (mentally) to take over the project (or not), and considering they see that they can provide value to the project, while also making sure this won’t affect other work, they will volunteer on their own. If they don’t (that may happen), by the time you need to delegate, ask them who would be the right person to take over… you might be surprised on their picks, as one candidate that you would simply ignore will likely appear on the list, and there you have an opportunity not only to split the workload but also consider a new delegate for future projects.

Once you get into a culture where delegation does not come from above, but actually seems like ownership coming from the actual people doing the work, then you are in a good path to success. Still, do not forget that you are still the main responsible if things start to crack, so don’t get too comfortable on your chair and keep finding ways to make your team a high performance one, where leadership is just there to help and/or remove obstacles, not to constantly give orders and act like a police man.

Extra, sharing a good link on Dan Kim’s advice to allow people decide the next task on their own while working on a project, this is within the same path of this article, and while it may not entirely apply to a tech project, it may surely give you some room for thought to implement improvements on the way you manage several projects at once.

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