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  • Are your conversations achieving what you want?
    Are your conversations achieving what you want?
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    Can you allow discussion and still keep control?
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    Are you getting the best out of your people?
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    Does your feedback help people change?
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    How are you coming across to your boss?
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    Do you frequently get into arguments?

Might this London UK effective delegation skills training
raise your sights about what you can achieve
as a manager?

What does it mean to have good delegation skills?

The meaning of delegation in management is trusting others to find their own solutions to problems, and to let them get on with the task without the manager believing they have to do everything themselves.  It might involve the manager holding back from giving advice and only offering it when they are certain that it is needed.  A manager is better at developing people if they are comfortable delegating, as it allows others to think for themselves.  A leader who is good at delegating encourages others to take responsibility and use their own initiative.

A manager with delegation skills may take on a role of mentor, coach or counsellor to help the other person explore their own thoughts, feelings and concerns about how to get the task done. A leader who delegates work effectively might ask open questions to get to the heart of the problem before trying to solve it, such as "Why are you so concerned?", "How have you tried to tackle it?", and "What do you think the main obstacle is?"

When people have been trusted and delegated to they are encouraged to think for themselves they respond better to these kinds of questions because it makes them feel more understood because their manager is more interested in what they think, and is therefore more satisfying to talk to.  When their manager does give advice they are more confident in it because they’ve shown a better understanding of the difficulties.  

Why is the art of delegation difficult?

Most managers and professional people assume the role of Problem Solver.   A Problem Solver, like the doctor doing a diagnosis, asks for facts and tries out ideas. So, they have to take control of the discussion.  They take pride in the role and often feels under great pressure to produce a solution. If they are have got used to the role of Problem Solver leaders may not have got into the habit of delegating very often. It’s because they may be the expert on a technical matter that they may become frustrated with other people being much slower at arriving at solutions.  They may find it hard to delegate because they are nervous about leaving things up to less qualified, or less confident, or less experienced people may be slower, less efficient, or less effective.

However, although people who struggle to think through a problem for themselves may initially welcome help from a manager who does the bulk of the thinking for them, there are some serious limitations with delegating reluctantly.  The manager who takes on too much, without delegating any of the responsibility is not very good at developing people because they are kept dependent on the manager.  A manager who is unwilling or unable to delegate effectively runs the risk of committing to more work than they can deliver, which is likely to jeopardise their reputation if they start missing deadlines.  They may also end up taking on so much work that they burn out.

How does a good leader delegate effectively?

Good leaders who are interested in developing people, making others feel valued and respected, and are keen to share the workload by delegating work effectively, and safely can develop their delegation skills, in the following three ways;-

A typical example of a manager who struggled to delegate effectively

Here is an example of how learning to delegate effectively can help other people to have more confidence in your abilities to manage a heavy workload.  People come on our delegation skills training course because they want to know how to delegate work effectively without losing control.  Over the years lots of participants who have attended our delegation skills training course wanting to develop their delegation skills, and have come because of issues just like this.  Does this ring any bells for you or someone you know?

The problem - a manager not very confident about how to delegate to others 

Senior manager who was better at solving problems than anyone else in his team, but the more he solved the longer was the queue at his door.  His director was getting worried because the manager was working very long hours, and beginning to show signs of strain.  He was missing some of his deadlines.  And he was finding it necessary, when managerial vacancies occurred in his department, to recruit from outside rather than to promote from within because there was no-one ready in the department to fill the vacancies. Although he started out showing great promise it was beginning to look as though he might not be able to go as far in his career as both he and others had hoped.  The director had told him he needed to change his style of management - to delegate more and to concentrate on developing his team - but although he tried, and in spite of his good intentions, he did not seem able to keep it up.

The diagnosis – why was this manager unable (or unwilling) to delegate?

He was very good at solving problems, and it was this that made him so successful in the early days. So much so that it had become a habit. As soon as someone brought him a problem he would mentally take it over and solve it.  Unfortunately, the effect this habit of response had on others was to prevent them from delegating to others and enabling them to develop their own ability to solve problems.  It resulted in them lacking confidence in their ability to think for themselves and in them becoming increasingly dependent on him.  This in turn caused him to lose confidence in them, making him even less willing to delegate responsibilities to them, and so things went from bad to worse. The irony was that by being so good at solving problems he was digging a pit from which it was becoming harder and harder to escape.  His compulsive problem-solving had become a habit that was threatening his career if he wasn’t able to start delegating, and although the habit was a hard one to break he was going to have to change.

The mental obstacles to change – what was putting him delegating effectively?

For this manager there were two main mental obstacles to change, and both would have to be overcome if the change was to be genuine and lasting.  The first was his strong but deep-seated conviction that it if he could not produce the answer himself he would be seen to be failing in his job, so delegation was not an option.  The second was the pace at which he worked - his permanent sense of time pressure.  He always felt he did not have time to coach others - that it would be much quicker to sort the problem out himself.  He was therefore unwilling to delegate to others.  So, no change would be possible or permanent unless he was able to give up the need to be seen to be the one providing the answer, and unless he was able to slow down his responses when faced with a problem.

The remedy – how did he develop his delegation skills?

He first needed to be made clearly aware of the habit that was causing him the problem, and of the mental obstacles he would have to overcome.  He needed to realise and accept that although it started out as a strength, it had, in effect, become an obstacle to progress, that changing a habit is not easy but that his career depended on it.  Then he needed to learn how to shift the focus of his attention when someone brought him a difficulty from tackling it himself to finding out what was stopping them tackle it.  This was an entirely different way of listening.  He had never listened like this before, and at first he felt strange and uncomfortable doing it.  But with specific coaching, encouragement, practice and persistence he learned how to slow down, set aside his own thoughts about how to solve a problem, and pay attention instead to other people’s thoughts.   In this way he was able to start coaching people, win back control over his working day, change his style of management, became more comfortable delegating to others and rescue his career.

Free exploratory coaching session


If so, you can have a FREE exploratory coaching session. It'll give you a foretaste of what you can get from the course. You make no commitment to proceed beyond this until you're sure this training is relevant to your own particular need.

How to accept this offer

Simply contact us for a preliminary chat and to arrange your free exploratory coaching session. 

What this session will do for you

In this session we'll aim to give you something practical you can use right away that'll help you handle a difficult situation more successfully at work. All you need do to prepare for this session is think about the kinds of situations you want to be able to handle more successfully.


You'll find answers to many of your questions about the content and method of this course under FAQs (in the main menu above).

Price, dates and location of our upcoming public courses

For details of our upcoming public courses see course dates

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