The delegative style of leadership has become increasingly popular in recent years. While the concept of delegating or passing off tasks from a leader to a worker dates back to the 60s, this renowned laissez-faire style of leadership is currently a central and highly debated topic.
As years pass by, the business and management industry continues to change, develop, and adapt. A part of this comes with the slow but evident rejection of the authoritarian style of leadership in the workplace. Nowadays, good leaders recognize the need to keep employees engaged and involved in order to create and culture of a positive work environment.
In line with this, delegative leadership became a viable team and workplace management method for business owners, leaders, and managers. But, what is a delegative style of leadership? To give you a better idea, here’s a brief overview and a quick rundown of how delegative leadership properly and effectively works in the workplace.
The Basics of Delegative Leadership
Also known as laissez-faire (let you do) leadership, this style of leadership revolves around the concept of a leader delegating tasks effectively to workers, employees, or team members.
The primary principle of a delegative style of leadership provides employees with flexibility and autonomy over their work. They are also given free rein and the authority to make important decisions regarding their tasks as they see fit and with little to no supervision from the leader.
The goal of a delegative leader is to engage employees and encourage the growth and development of the employees’ skills, hands-on experience, and careers. This method of team and workplace management also promotes the creativity and innovation necessary to accomplish team goals and objectives autonomously. This approach puts leaders in the backseat and allows team members to take over with regard to their work.
The Pros and Cons of a Delegative Style of Leadership
While delegative leadership is becoming more and more popular in modern companies and organizations, there is still an ongoing argument about the advantages and disadvantages of this management approach.
A delegative style of leadership is not the norm in the business world. That is why many believe that transitioning to this form of workplace management can lead to employee dissatisfaction, frequent miscommunication, interpersonal conflicts, and a significant drop in overall productivity. However, this risk is typically a result of poor management and leadership and not the fault of a delegative system. Some managers fail to prepare their work structure and team members while others completely neglect their management responsibilities in lieu of employee autonomy.
If the risks of the transition are handled properly, a delegative style of leadership can significantly change and improve the overall performance of a business or company. One of the notable benefits of this delegative approach is that employees feel a high level of engagement with their work which leads to better performance and overall productivity.
Delegative leadership helps empower workers and promotes continuous personal and career growth. In terms of productivity, task delegation shifts the emphasis on day-to-day work and processes. Instead, it looks at the bigger picture and focuses on strategy and outcomes. This provides employees with the flexibility to work as they please as well as the opportunity to show their skills and expertise.
What It Takes To Practice Delegative Leadership Properly
Transitioning to a delegative style of leadership can be unfamiliar and unsettling not only for the employees but for the leaders and managers as well. In order to practice this leadership style properly, it is important to understand that the concept of this approach is not as simple as delegating tasks and then simply hoping for the best results. So, what does it take for a leader to transition to a delegative leadership approach?
Good communication is one of the critical delegation skills that a delegative leader should have or develop. While leaders take a backseat in a delegative management setup, this does not mean that leaders completely and absolutely let go of their supervisory responsibilities over their team members.
One of the elements of a delegative leadership style involves giving employees absolute control and authority over their tasks or projects. In this setup, the delegative leader takes a supporting role and avoids micromanaging their employees. So for this to work, good leaders should trust and believe that their employees are well capable to do their jobs properly even with minimal supervision and input. At the same time, leaders should be able to put their full confidence and entrust the responsibility for decision-making to their employees.
An important part of the effective delegation process revolves around creating an open line and culture of communication in the workplace. Basically, for an employee to do their assigned task properly, the leader should be able to communicate the objectives and expected outcomes of the project. On the flip side, employees should also be able to communicate openly with their leaders, especially during the minimal number of updates and meetings common in such work setups.
Patience has always been an important characteristic of a good leader. However, a delegative style of leadership calls for a particularly patient individual that is able to thrive without constantly knowing every bit of information, progress, and work done by their employees.
First and foremost, delegative leaders should be able to let go of their micromanaging tendencies. Aside from that, it is also crucial for a delegative leader to be patient with the progress and outcome of their employees’ work. While it’s good to have high expectations for your employees, it’s not logical to expect output that is comparable to your level or expertise. Instead of putting immense pressure on your employees, be patient with their progress and promote a healthy personal and career growth instead.
Tips To Make Delegative Leadership Work in the Workplace
Aside from understanding the basic principles of a delegative leadership style, it’s also critical for leaders to build a workplace and work environment suited for the delegation process. With that, here are some helpful tips on how to prepare your work and your team for a laissez-faire style of leadership.
Prepare your team
If you’re transitioning to a delegative style of leadership or simply changing your management approach, it’s important to ensure that your work processes and your team members are also ready for the shift. Give them enough time to adjust and slowly ease in the new rules, policies, and expectations you have for your employees.
Provide clear and concise instructions
When you assign responsibility to an employee as a delegative leader, the notion is that one instruction should be enough for them to understand what to do and how to do it. However, this may not be the case if you are giving out vague and unclear instructions. To make sure that you delegate work properly, provide your employees with all the details and information they need to complete the task at hand with minimal guidance or supervision.
Focus on results, not day-to-day activities
One of the most important elements of delegation is that it prevents employee micromanaging. A good delegative leader should provide their employees with the autonomy and flexibility to work the way they please. In order to do this, shift your focus on the results of the project or assigned task instead of obsessing over their day-to-day progress.
Know what to delegate
For you to know what tasks to delegate, you should first and foremost know what your employees are capable of doing. An important element of an effective delegation process is to delegate work to employees who are deemed skilled and experienced in their own fields. So before delegating tasks to your employees, it’s crucial that you are knowledgeable of their strengths, weaknesses, and overall experience in order to accurately judge whether they can handle a particular task or project on their own.
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