When your name occupied the top position in the hierarchy-structure chart of your organization, or one of the departments or sections or even the smaller sub-units within your organization, you are a leader. No matter whether you lead the whole organization or just the small part of it, you possess certain powers. That includes the power of authority; the legitimate power related to your position as determined by your organization. It gives you the rights to make decisions that involve other people in your down-streams.
As a person with authorities, would you rather keep those authorities to yourself or would you prefer to delegate some of them to your subordinates?
This is about the delegation of authority. General Douglas MacArthur, been described as a great commander and administrator, might had asked himself the same question during his time. That’s why he had emphasized a great deal on the delegation of authority in the list of questions he developed as the principles of his leadership. I just pick a few of them here:
· Do I heckle my subordinates or strengthen and encourage them?
· Do I delegate tasks that should be mine?
· Do I arrogate everything to myself and delegate nothing?
· Do I develop my subordinates by placing on each one as much responsibility as he can stand?
(You may see the full list here: http://www.leadershipnow.com/macarthurprinciples.html)
Delegation of authority is one of the elements that contribute towards the effectiveness in operating the organization’s activities. It simply means leaders empower the subordinates by deciding how much authority they should delegate to them.
The clarity on the ‘authorized power’ for making decisions among the subordinates will enable them to help smoothening the flow of work processes. Besides, the delegation of authority is benefited in several other aspects, such as:
i. It develops a more competitive climate within the organization, as subordinates are challenged and motivated to contribute their best performance in comparison to their peers.
ii. It encourages the development of professional administrators among the subordinates through abilities to gain skills in making more significant decisions.
iii. With the delegated authorities, subordinates are able to exercise the broader and higher autonomy that leads to better leadership and managerial creativities.
iv. By delegating part of authorities to the subordinates, leaders may release themselves from ‘overloaded’ responsibilities and may converge his attention on tasks that are more important or with urgent priorities.
Anyhow, the delegation of authority should be implemented within certain limits. If you delegate all the authorities to your subordinates, you will no longer remain as a leader because it left you with no power to control or make decisions. But, if you delegate nothing to your subordinates for fear of loosing your power, it also dismisses you from your status. A leader should motivate and receive the support from the subordinates.
Therefore, the delegation of authority should be made in light of various factors, such as:
i. the routine of the decisions to be made.
ii. the degree of importance of the decision.
iii. the amount and level of tasks to be accomplished.
iv. the capability (such as skills and competencies) of the subordinates to take the responsibility.