Professionals new to leadership roles often struggle with delegation—especially new tech execs, who may be moving for the first time from a primarily hands-on role to a leadership position. If rookie tech leaders fall into a pattern of micromanaging their teams, they can’t devote needed attention to their new responsibilities. That’s where the art of delegation comes in.
To delegate appropriately, tech leaders need to be aware not only of what their companies most need but also their own capacity and the skills each member of their team brings to the table. Below, 15 members of Forbes Technology Council offer their advice to help tech leaders start delegating effectively.
1. Hire Smart And Listen To Your Team
New tech leaders must learn to hire the right people for their team and then listen to them. Having the right people on your team makes it a lot easier to delegate important tasks. If you have a team in place already, take time to listen to them and differentiate where their strengths are, and let that guide task delegation. Hire smart, listen and let them lead! – Marcus Turner, Enola Labs
2. Focus On Relationships And Individual Capabilities
It’s important to know and understand each team member’s skill set, strengths and capabilities so you know where you can go should you need to delegate. Without this knowledge and relationship, you won’t know who can help, and often you’ll just give up on delegation and do it yourself. – Yenn Lei, Calendar
3. Build Leadership And Communication Skills
It’s important to be a strong leader so that people are willing to listen to you and work with you. Delegation requires being able to get multiple people working together in harmony toward a shared vision. MasterClass is a great platform to learn some important business skills from the likes of Howard Schultz, David Axelrod, Anna Wintour and more. – Dr. Evan Singh Luthra, Startup Studio
4. Trust Your Teams
Every tech exec goes through a transition from individual contributor, to rock star, to an executive. The focus is no longer on your own performance but on the collective performance of the team or organization. To be successful, you have to trust and empower others to execute. Their work may not be exactly what you would have done, but you have to be okay with the end result meeting the intent of the job. – James Carder, LogRhythm
5. Stay Humble
Making sure you stay humble enough to know who is smarter than you in X, Y or Z is an important skill to cultivate and may not come naturally. But in a leadership role, it is up to us to leverage the strengths of those around us to accomplish the task at hand. That will often mean things aren’t done our way, but in the way those we manage—who may be smarter—will do it. Trust in your team. – José Morey, Liberty BioSecurity
6. Use Agile, Be Agile
My advice to any new tech leader is to consider the best use of agile working practices, particularly when it comes to driving projects and development activities. The ability for tech leaders to enable standups and teamwork to align behind the purpose of a short (say two-week) sprint of activity will go a long way to enabling and delegating the work. – Susan Bowen, Aptum
7. Be Transparent And Accessible
Making the transition doesn’t have to be difficult. Get to know your team members and their communication styles. Some like emails, while others like to meet every day. Start slowly and build a relationship, which will help build trust. Overcommunicate to ensure your message is heard by your team and they are in sync with you and can ask questions. – Joe Talarek, Turtle Beach
8. Develop A Standardized Planning Process
As an exec, one of your most important duties is to develop a standardized planning process. This makes executing objectives easier. The plan must be thoroughly communicated to the team so every employee understands what is required of them. You must have trust in them, and they must act with integrity and accountability. – Abishek Surana Rajendra, Course Hero
9. Apply The 70% Rule
While in the moment it may be easier to just “do it yourself and get it done well,” this approach won’t scale and this mindset won’t lead to shared ownership of initiatives. Execs can apply the 70% rule: If someone can do the task 70% as well as the person delegating the task, then it should be delegated. With expectations clearly outlined, leaders can recapture time and improve team trust. – Evan Kohn, Pypestream
10. Have A Running To-Do List
I have a running to-do list for every project we have in IT. I take the tasks and immediately start thinking about who works best with each to-do item. I methodically line those up and then ship those tasks off to the right person. Doing so from the get-go will get you to delegate. Once you are knee-deep in a project, you find yourself just powering through when you should have been delegating. – Chalmers Brown, Due
11. Communicate The Impact Of A Job Well Done
Know each person’s top strengths and weaknesses. Delegate based on what you know they do best. Additionally, always let the person know the reason the task needs to be completed. This way it doesn’t sound or feel like they are only working on a project for their boss—instead, they are completing something important to the big picture of the company. – Tammy Cohen, InfoMart Inc.
12. Take Baby Steps
Taking baby steps is the start! Pick small tasks—the ones where they can test their skills and limitations with little risk. In this way, you will both better understand where improvements can be made. There is no learning without failure, so be sure to provide a safe-to-fail environment. – Bruno Guicardi, CI&T
13. Invest In Your New Leaders For Success
New tech execs often come from an environment where deep technology skills are most valued. Being a leader is mostly about soft skills—bringing out the best in the people you lead. It’s easy to find justification for training for hard skills, but leadership training is not prioritized, even though the impact is much greater. Invest in new leaders as you do with engineers. – Georg Thingbo, Kinly
14. Focus On Empowerment And Accountability
Focus on creating leaders by ensuring that you delegate with clear expectations and coach on how the results met expectations. Proactively look to grow what your team can do by delegating aggressively, and remember your time is better used growing leaders, because you can’t scale your organization otherwise. – Matthew Wallace, Faction, Inc.
15. Do A Root-Cause Analysis On Your Delegation Fault
Delegation is hard, but why it’s hard differs from leader to leader. Personally, I struggle with trust, which makes delegating tasks difficult for me. Other leaders whom I know struggle with properly defining the task they’re delegating, and other leaders struggle with knowing who might best take on a given task. If you find yourself procrastinating delegation, do a root-cause analysis on the “why.” – Paul Lanzi, Remediant