Effective Delegation is Key

Copyright © 11/2023 ❘ The Enterneers®

Delegation is a difficult yet essential activity and is vital when it comes to business growth. Successful delegation needs to be learned and trained. Especially for young entrepreneurs or founders, it is often not easy to step back from being the best technician in the house. It is a transition towards becoming an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs and executives who do everything themselves and work long hours often find it impossible to take breaks, go on a holiday, and most importantly, allocate time to work on their business. The sooner you master the art of being an effective leader, the sooner you will attain sustainable success.

Effective delegation is an integral part of many leadership and management training programs. The right way to delegate can be learned and trained. However, before you get to grips with the HOW of effective delegation, it is highly advisable to have formed your own opinion about the WHY. There is a difference between a team manager and a CEO approaching the topic. The difference has less to do with hierarchy or authority than you might think.


The simplest reason for delegation is that there are too many tasks for one person to complete. In this case, delegation can also be lateral and has nothing to do with hierarchy. For example, if colleague A transfers some of his tasks to colleague B, this also constitutes a delegation of tasks. A classic example of this is planned holiday or sickness cover.

The term delegation is most frequently used by executives whose main task is to ensure that work is distributed effectively within a team and that the expected results are delivered on time and to the required quality. In this case, delegation is a key part of the role.

Delegation also takes place between executives, for example when the CXO delegates tasks to their team leader.

Another reason for delegation is to deliberately hand over issues and responsibilities to other people so that you can focus on other things. At first, this sounds like 'I will keep the tasks I enjoy the most and hand over all the others.'. Strictly speaking, however, the key for many entrepreneurs and executives lies in their own development within the company. In most cases, this development takes place in step with the growth of the company, or with a slight delay. If the gap between the developmental progress of the organisation and that of the entrepreneur or executive becomes too great, visible shortcomings, losses, or a lack of measures quickly appear. This development often goes hand in hand with the transition from micromanagement to macromanagement. Essentially, it is a matter of recognising and defining or developing one's own role in the company. As the size and complexity of the business increase, entrepreneurs and executives need to move away from micromanagement to fulfil their actual tasks. Some manage to do this very consciously and self-determinedly, while others get stuck in micromanagement and have to learn through external influences that they need to focus more on other things. It's about letting go and trusting so that you can devote yourself effectively to other more important issues. What are these issues?

From a certain stage of development or complexity of the company, entrepreneurs and executives are primarily responsible for the following

Strategy: Setting the direction and communicating the desired goals and upcoming challenges in a way that unleashes passion, motivation, and innovation.

Growth: Creating conditions so that growth can be realised effectively and sustainably.

Change: Ensuring that constant change is a matter of course in the company and that changes are implemented consciously and according to plan.

People: Hiring, retaining, and developing the right people with the right talents. Empowering people to do their jobs effectively to be competitive.

Structure: Providing the company and its organisation with an appropriate structure in which the organisation's goals are effectively anchored and performance is ensured.

Culture: Actively shaping the orientation, behaviour, and customs within the company and defining elements such as a sense of purpose, values, and habits.


In principle, almost everything that arises in a world based on the division of labour can be delegated. To better structure this diversity, the different processes can be categorised according to the type and scope of delegation as follows

  • Task-based delegation: single task, specific process, clear definition, clear specifications, high level of detail, outlined solution, end date
  • Goal or outcome-based delegation: bundle of activities, defined end goal, specified result, measurable success criteria, low level of detail, open solution path, end date
  • Expectation-based delegation: defined expectation horizon, desired target effects, behavioural or developmental success criteria, details, and solution are open, the implementation period
  • Role or job-based delegation: permanently defined requirements for a role/job/function, measurable compliance requirements, external regulations/laws/criteria if applicable, usually open-ended, no end date

For entrepreneurs and executives, the following perspectives help answer the question of WHAT to do:

  1. Approach according to John D. Rockefeller: Never do something that others can do for you. Consciously ask yourself why you should do this task. Look for a person who can carry out this task most effectively. It is efficient to look for the right person at the most operational level to save important resources and costs. Choose the person carefully and consciously, as the responsibility ultimately remains with you.
  2. Know and recognise your own role: It is important to know your own role and the associated responsibilities and to be able to interpret them correctly. Entrepreneurs and executives can quickly make a list of things they should never or rarely delegate. Read more about it in our related post '5 Things that entrepreneurs or CXOs cannot delegate effectively'.
  3. Use the Eisenhower matrix: In this simple matrix, tasks are categorised into four boxes according to whether they are important/unimportant or urgent/not urgent. Put simply, the rule of thumb is not to delegate and to do things yourself that are 'important and urgent' according to the understanding of roles mentioned in point 2.



Delegating correctly needs to be learned and requires some practice and the necessary basic knowledge. Some points are of particular importance.

Identification & definition
To delegate effectively, you need to be clear about what you are delegating and why. You also need to be able to describe the requirement in a way that another person can understand.

Priorities & importance
Identifying and setting priorities is one of the biggest challenges in delegation. Especially when there are several competing issues from different areas for the same performer. It is up to the delegator to ensure that priorities are clearly stated and that the executor is not left alone with poorly aligned priorities from different areas. Against this background, knowledge of the importance of the process in an overarching context is essential, as the aim is not for the executor to prevail in an internal competition, but to successfully implement the delegated topic.

Execution & resources
The delegator must find out which person or team is best suited to carry out the task. An open and solution-oriented discussion about the necessary resources, additional work, or money should be held and agreed upon with the person carrying out the work. Several people involved in the execution should be introduced or announced by the delegator. The delegator is responsible for providing the necessary resources.

Deadlines & criteria
Deadlines, critical paths, and completion dates must be clearly specified and agreed upon, together with the desired results, objectives, or expectations. The delegator should always provide sufficient opportunity for reflection and feedback regarding the requirement criteria. On the one hand, this feedback is important in order to recognise any incorrectly assessed or overlooked circumstances and to make corrections. On the other hand, this dialogue promotes the acceptance and motivation of those carrying out the work.

Knowledge & transparency
The greater the knowledge of the background and context of the delegated issue, the better the prospects for high-quality success. It is the delegator's task to ensure that there is sufficient transparency in the relevant environment of those carrying out the work and that the content can be processed with the necessary understanding and awareness.

Handover & acceptance
The process of handing over delegated content must always be carried out consciously, in dialogue, and with mutual feedback. This can also take place through digital interaction. The same applies to the final acceptance or, in the case of role or job-based delegation, to its regular review.

Empower & encourage
Delegators should always be interested in empowering and supporting those carrying out the work so that they can fulfil their tasks in the best possible way and continuously develop with a view to the tasks ahead.

Letting go & observing
Effective delegation is often very challenging for inexperienced managers because they entrust other people with important tasks that they tend to do themselves. They feel a special connection with the content to be delegated and often tend to get involved in its execution despite the delegation. It is initially difficult to consciously take on the role of observer without being a constant and intrusive observer. To make matters worse, with all delegated content there is a certain amount of feedback that does not fulfil expectations or even leads to unwanted problems. This is part and parcel of delegation, just as every manager always has a certain margin of error in the decisions they make. Perfection and egocentrism are the worst advisors for effective delegation.

Appraise & honour
Ultimately, all delegated tasks, topics, or roles should be accompanied by appropriate assessment and personal appreciation. Constructive criticism and performance-related consequences are just as appropriate as praise and personal recognition. The oft-cited approach of 'no blame is as good as praise' has been proven to be a misplaced and antiquated argument to conceal one's own convenience or lack of social skills. No entrepreneur or manager should deliberately resort to this argument.


The biggest obstacles to effective delegation and conscious macromanagement among entrepreneurs and executives are often their own conviction, talent, and passion. It is precisely these three characteristics, which particularly characterise successful entrepreneurs, that become an obstacle at this point. One reason for this is that many entrepreneurs do not start out with the aim or desire to build a particularly complex and demanding business in which they themselves can spend a lot of time working ‘on’ the enterprise. On the contrary, most start-ups spend a lot of time working on products, customers, technologies, or systems. This is often where their personal talent and therefore their strengths lie. This is fun for them and drives their passion. Like everyone else, they also feel safe and particularly important or indispensable there. For many, letting go, delegating, and handing over to others means an emotional overcoming and challenging change. At the same time, the ‘other’ issues may be new, less familiar, or not yet frequently applied. This results in uncertainty, discomfort, or, in the worst case, defensiveness. At this point, the inner conviction must be adjusted. In some cases, this only takes place after a previous painful learning curve, because the deficiencies have led to a drop in quality, delivery problems, or employee and customer dissatisfaction because of ineffective micro-management and a lack of work ‘on’ the enterprise. In most cases, this transformation succeeds either with or without the help of external experts. These can be helpful, for example, when it comes to self-reflection and situation analysis as well as personal development.


Empower yourself in Enterprise Leadership 5.0

Access knowledge and get guidance or training for practical implementation. Interact with like-minded people or acquire suitable coaching if needed.

First time here? Find the right use case for you!



Related content:

  • ​News/Working On versus In Your Business  ❭ ❭ ❭
  • ​News/Things that CEOs cannot delegate effectively  ❭ ❭ ❭