The Ugly Truth Behind Delegation

FullSizeRender (2)I’m stepping into a new executive role at work, and read the classic book by Peter Drucker – The Effective Executive.  In it, he argues against delegation saying that it makes little sense.

“‘Delegation’ as the term is customarily used, is a misunderstanding – is indeed misdirection.  But getting rid of anything that can be done by somebody else so that one does not have to delegate but can really get to one’s own work – that is a major improvement in effectiveness.” 

Here we discover the ugly truth behind delegation.  Often leaders spend time delegating their work to others, or feel pressured to be a better delegator.  But, should their work really be someone else’s work?

In regards to delegation, leaders should ask the question: “What things on my plate could actually be done by someone else just as well, if not better?”

Delegation isn’t just to get others to do your work.  It’s looking at the work you’re currently doing, knowing that you are bound by limits of time, and knowing that there are certain key tasks to focus on.  Delegating what others can do or do better than you helps you to target your focus by equipping the right people to do the right work (including yourself).


  • Delegate work that can be done by someone else just as well, if not better
  • Equip and train people with precision and detail
  • Communicate the “why” of the task at hand and how it contributes to the organization


  • Delegate work that only you can do
  • Delegate work that you’ll need to micromanage
  • Communicate criticism of how the task is being accomplished in public

 How do you handle delegation in your role?