It’s time to rethink delegation.
Too often this means distributing routine tasks so we can focus on bigger projects. But that’s not delegating — that’s unloading busywork. Delegation should be strategic. If you’re not taking advantage of employees’ skills, perspectives, and interests, you’re missing opportunities to build your team and your business.
A 2013 survey reported 53% of business owners believe delegating would grow their business over 20% — yet less than 15% say they already assign everything they should. We know delegating helps our bottom line, but we’re stuck on how to do it well.
According to the book Lincoln on Leadership, Abraham Lincoln’s delegation strategy included three main concepts: persuade, support, encourage. Although much has changed since the 1860s (indoor plumbing for one!), his effective techniques serve as the following timeless lessons for us all.
1. Persuade Through Shared Vision.
William Seward, Secretary of State, believed Lincoln was “totally unqualified and incompetent.” Undeterred, Lincoln earned Seward’s respect. They visited troops, discussed strategies, and shared patriotic vision. Lincoln convinced Seward they shared values, and then fully tasked international diplomacy to demonstrate trust in Seward.