12 Sentences that Prevent Reverse Delegation

Reverse delegation happens when delegated tasks end up back in your bucket.

Reverse delegation stalls the trajectory of your career, the growth of your team, and the success of your organization.

Why reverse delegation happens:

  1. You want to be helpful. Over-helpful leaders end up doing other people’s work for them.
  2. You don’t see it. Some employees are skillful at delegating work to their bosses.
  3. You have the wrong employees.
  4. You’re a control freak. Everything has to be done your way.
  5. You’re a perfectionist.

Accept 80% good enough from people who are 80% as skilled as you.

12 sentences that prevent reverse delegation:

  1. “What’s the next step you can take?” Use “You,” not “we.”
  2. “I hear you explaining ways that I might move the ball forward. What could you do?”
  3. “I want this to be a team effort. What contribution can you make?”
  4. “I think you misunderstood my question. I wasn’t thinking about something I should do. I was wondering how you might run with it.”
  5. “Which of your strengths might apply to this opportunity?” Don’t respond directly to reverse delegation. Just point to their capabilities.
  6. “No. It’s better for your career for you to grab this opportunity.”
  7. “What makes you reluctant to run this ball down the field?”
  8. “How might I make it feel safe for you to risk taking on this responsibility?’
  9. “It doesn’t help your career when I do this. What’s a small step you can take today?”
  10. “What comes to mind when you think of taking this responsibility?”
  11. “Dividing this into pieces creates more complexity.” Use this when people try to give back a portion of the task.
  12. “I know it’s easier for me to do it. But it’s better for you to do it.” Use this when employees say, “It’s easier for you.”

How might leaders prevent reverse delegation?

Which of the above sentences feel best to you?

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