Delegation or Dumping? How to Ask Others to Do Things.

One of the hardest things about leading others is asking them to do things.

There can be an apprehensive, almost apologetic tone to our requests or assignments to those we lead. “I’m sorry to have to ask you to do this…but would you mind ____________ this week”.

Practically speaking, directing others to complete tasks is an essential element of leadership. Every leader should thoughtfully consider how to execute this essential requirement of leadership with God-glorifying excellence. Gospel-centered leaders see delegation as an opportunity to build others up rather than merely lightening their own load.

So is your leading of others to complete tasks primarily delegating work or dumping work?

Three questions to consider:

1. Are you casting vision when assigning tasks?

One massive difference between delegating work and dumping work is vision-casting. If a leader is thoughtfully delegating work they not only have an assignment to give but a vision to cast. Help others see the work you are asking them to do as an opportunity to contribute to the overall vision and mission of the organization. This doesn’t require an elaborate “vision-talk” each time you assign work but it does mean that you are creating a culture, as a leader, that values every action and sees no tasks as ultimately meaningless but instead sees each task as a unique opportunity to bring glory to God.

Provide the “why” when you assign the “what”.

2. Are you avoiding difficult work?

If you currently possess a “position/perk” view of leadership then dumping work comes quite naturally. Leadership, of course, is not about dodging uncomfortable conversations and seemingly menial, uncomfortable or difficult work. Instead, it is about accepting responsibility, owning mistakes, deflecting praise and making the difficult decisions.  Dumping work is often a convenient way for leaders to avoid conflict or a specific responsibility of some kind.  Ask yourself: Am I assigning this task because I can or because it is truly in the best interest of the organization as a whole?

 3. Are you providing support?

Delegation is about equipping and encouraging those you lead to complete tasks. Dumping work, on the other hand, is a “one and done” affair. The task is given and the leader is rarely heard from again. Why? Well, this reveals the leader is more preoccupied with the task than the follower. Good leaders are different.

Good leaders provide adequate resources, consistent encouragement, helpful coaching and meaningful follow-up when they delegate.

Before you assign your next task, commit to a God-honoring style of delegation.


Chad Williams

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