Avoiding Reverse Delegation
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"Once a leader has delegated responsibility, he should never interfere, lest
his subordinates come to believe that the duties are not truly theirs." -
Leadership Methods of Ancient Warriors
In my experience as a leader (and at the same time subordinate), I have come
across different types of bosses. There was one who, after giving me a task to
accomplish, kept on coming to my office every now and then - checking on my
progress. Every time his face appears at my door, my internal organs shout at
the top of their lungs (do internal organs have lungs?), "STOP BARKING AT MY
Then there was one who, at the end of every discussion detailing things to be
done, invariably finishes his statements with, "Anyway, no big deal Rey." And I
really take his words to the bank, and don't give much seriousness to the task
at hand - until one day he would call me and follow-up on the "important"
matters we discussed the other day. When it happens, my internal organs shout, "WHAAAT,
I THOUGHT IT WAS NO BIG DEAL, REY."
Then one day, I found the "perfect boss." When we agree on something, he
would simply say, "I will not follow-up, and I'm not concerned about how you do
things. Just give me the results when the time comes. And please, no surprises."
This time my internal organs found heaven - "HALLELUJAH."
Fellow leader, which type of boss are you? Are you the one who barks at the
neck of your people, making sure they cannot sleep at night until the task is
finished? Or somebody who downplays important issues, and explode every time
results are not delivered? Or you could be the boss who honors commitments,
trust in the ability of your people to do things, and demand results as
What if things go wrong along the way? Now you ask me.
You should be on top of things, and be ready to recall delegation when the
need arises. That's why my "perfect boss" always remind me - no surprises! It
should form part of your agreement that you be informed should things go wrong.
Conflagrations always have a small beginning, but end up burning the whole block
because of failure to address the "small issues" as they arise.
What if the subordinate asks for your assistance, even if you know he is
capable of doing things assigned? Again, you ask.
Ahh, this is called "reverse delegation," and should be avoided at all cost
if you want to be effective as a leader . . .
What is this thing called "reverse delegation"? How do you know when it's
coming? What will you do to prevent it from happening?
Knowing the answer to these questions will surely save you lots of trouble,
especially in your people-management activities, and bring your leadership
effectiveness one notch higher. According to Attila the Hun; "Even I cannot
accomplish for you what you are not willing to accomplish for yourselves. You
must be willing to accept the responsibilities that I choose to delegate to
From one of ancient history's greatest warriors, we can copy some of his
techniques but not all. Because we should . . .
Always remember, life is sweet but short. Learn to enjoy, and enjoy learning!
All is well.
"Honor all commitments you make during discussions, lest your people fail to
trust your word in the future."
About the Author
Rey Misoles is CEO and Managing Director of MaP Consulting Group, a
consulting and training outfit for developing managerial competence.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-10-11 13:27:30 in Employee Articles