This article summarises briefly an approach to delegation that I have found effective, based on the thinking of Kenneth Blanchard in his book, Leadership and the One Minute Manager.
Situational leadership suggests, as the name implies, that there is no one right way of leading (and potentially delegating), and that the right approach depends upon the situation. Different situations may call for different styles. The suggestion is there are four main ways of delegating:
- Directive – where the boss sets out what, how, why, when and where to do the task.
- Coaching – where the leader involves the group in working out what needs to be done by whom and how, such that they buy in and become more able to act independently.
- Supporting – where the leader monitors progress but focuses mainly on ensuring the person they have delegated to feels confident to do the role and can ask for help if they truly need it.
- Delegating – where the leader largely trusts the individual to get on with the activity and doesn’t even monitor progress closely.
The thinking extends to suggest the following:
- Each style is appropriate in different situations. For example, an urgent and critical situation may require a more Directive style than a long term culture change programme.
- The appropriate style changes as the manager’s relationship with team members develops. A new joiner may need to be told what to do initially, but as they learn, we need to help them think through how to develop their role, then support them until eventually they become self sufficient, and we are able to fully delegate activity.