In his book, “Turn that Ship Around!” David L Marquet, former Nuclear Submarine Commander, talks about how he turned the worst performing submarine in the US fleet in to the best, primarily with great delegation and “moving decision making to where the information is.”

We tend to think of the Military as a guardian of the “Command and Tell”, hierarchical approach to Management.  Marquet had other ideas, but it is worth being clear that there was never any doubt who was in charge.

If it can be done effectively in such a Military environment, then surely it can be done anywhere?  The first trick is to look for the opportunity.  The 4Ds of time management shows us that we should look to delegate at every opportunity.


Click here for a link to the 4Ds of Time Management


Take Decisions where the Information is

Often our subordinates are better placed, with more information to hand to take decisions and even if that’s not true, it’s only fair to delegate more so that your team has the chance to learn and develop at every opportunity.

What are the key steps to delegating effectively?  Firstly only delegate if you have the time to do so with real clarity. Make sure the other person understands exactly what is required, by when, and why it is needed.


Situational Leadership

Secondly, judge and agree the level of support which the person you are delegating will require.  (Situational Leadership.)  Do they already have the competence to do the task fully, or will you need to work with them every step of the way?  Based on the above, agree when to check back in with them and how much of your time this will need.

Bear in mind that people will have different ways of doing things. Generally the more they can find their own way to do something, the more they will enjoy it, the better they will do the task and the more they will learn.  Try not to impose your idea of “how” it should be done, unless the other person is stuck and is asking for guidance.

Once the task is done, give full feedback on the task delegated of course, but also, importantly, review the learning process itself.  Did the other person make assumptions about what you wanted? Did you make assumptions about what they could do or how they would do it?  There will be plenty to learn here if you are both prepared to analyse the communication between you and how effectively you collaborated.

Keep in mind that you delegate responsibility to somebody, but you retain ownership and authority, so how well something is done is still very much on your plate.  Make sure you keep sight of the end product.


Click here if you want to explore how to set clear goals when you delegate