In a relay race, even the fastest and most capable runner cannot run the entire distance by themselves and expect to win. They must pass the baton, trusting their teammate to complete their portion of the race successfully. The same is true of delegation in leadership. In my experience as a leader, delegating responsibilities proves to be the most challenging, but also the most rewarding aspect of administration.
Opposite to its connotation, delegation often creates more work for the leader. Many leaders do not delegate because of the time and effort it takes to not only assign tasks, but then to oversee them and teach others the needed skills so that they may complete the task. My mom has recognized that it is more work for her to delegate chores and then oversee them and provide the instruction needed than to do them herself. Though this is true, effective leadership is measured in the growth and success of the followers. In delegating assignments and projects, leaders exercise selflessness and allow others to become leaders themselves.
I’ve learned about delegation this year as President of Soldotna High School’s National Honor Society. In our recent Blood Drive, I delegated small responsibilities like announcing the Drive and helping escort blood donors, but I took on all the other challenging assignments like scheduling donors and organizing important paperwork. I didn’t delegate challenging assignments because I feared being overwhelmed by the work of instructing others how to complete the tasks and the added effort and worry of ensuring that the assignments were completed. Though I grew from the experience, I realize now that my actions were selfish because I robbed the NHS members the opportunity to grow too.
Delegation not only requires selflessness, but the ability to forgive. Even when relay race teammates are taught how to run, they may drop the baton. I struggle delegating because I worry that those instructed might not complete the assignment as I would, or even fail. I’m working on this, and have found that the remedy to this ailment is to, as Queen Elsa of Frozen might say, “Let it go.”
Instructing on the goal of the assignment and its importance rather than the specific way to accomplish it gives followers freedom to apply their strengths and individuality, yielding a more successful result, although it will most likely differ from how you would do it. Encouraging uniqueness brings about the maximum growth in followers because they not only learn skills from the activity, but about themselves.
Trust your teammates to help you carry the baton, and practice the ability to forgive them when they stumble. And Mom, if you’re reading this, feel free to delegate the chores to the other kids.
Claire Kincaid is a senior at Soldotna High School.