Executive Decision Rights…More Than Delegation

3 Minute Read

Bottlenecks. Every company has them. What we don’t think about is the cost of each and every one of them. But think about it…the time it takes to elevate decisions and get all of the information from those who know, communicate the response, and perhaps justify it, all while doing other responsibilities takes too long and can be costly. The cost is more than just time itself; it’s an increase in frustration and a decline of motivation.

Depending on the size of the company, the executive team’s responsibility is to set the direction of the company and ensure the right resources are in place to execute the vision. But all too often, we see senior leaders spending far too much time working in the business; not on the business. Decisions are elevated to the leadership team when many, if not most of them, should have been the responsibility of others on their team.

“Managers and leaders are taught delegation. Which they do…tasks. They delegate tasks; not decisions.”


So why does this happen? Managers and leaders are taught delegation. Which they do…tasks. They delegate tasks; not decisions. Tasks and/or projects are much easier because the final decision ultimately still lies with the leader. Decisions that have to be elevated to a senior leader often take too long and, much like the telephone game we all played as a kid, the message is often distorted from the original.

So it’s time to get serious about delegating.

We’re talking creating decision rights for people.

  • First, determine what decisions only you should make. Be honest. Only you. Be careful not to fall into the trap of believing that your judgement is better than someone else’s. Look at the role and purpose of the position you hold. Make a list of rights you must keep to deliver on your purpose and commitments.
  • Second, list the decisions others should be making. Determine the role(s) or position(s) that should be making each one.
  • Then ask yourself, “Why aren’t they?” It is because they don’t know they should? Do you end up somehow taking the decision back? Do they know your expectations? Are they not capable? Do they not have the confidence? Any one of these answers requires a change, both for you and them.
Now it’s time to make some changes.

Meet with others to communicate the changes in decision rights. Explain your expectations. Find out from them what they believe they need in order to move forward with these rights. Do they need you to communicate to others the change in decision authority? Do they need parameters as they (or you) gain confidence? You may choose to roll a few out at a time, or all at once. It all depends on the skill level and level of decision being made.

Find a way to develop your team’s decision-making skills. Facilitate their thinking process. Ask who else should be involved in making various decisions. Help them determine courses of action if they run into roadblocks with other areas of the company.

We recommend monthly one-on-one, two-way discussions about goals, performance expectations, behaviors, roadblocks, and other feedback. This is a good time to ask what decisions your team feels they could be making that you are currently handling. This will help open your eyes to opportunities for more delegation, and maybe even some training.

This process, to one degree or another, should happen at all levels and with each employee. As people gain knowledge and skills, rights may be expanded. The talent in your organization is your most valuable asset. Give them freedom. Unlock the potential and watch the positive impact on your organization. What can delegation of decision rights do for you?

Do any of these symptoms look familiar? Maybe it’s time for some Leadership Development!

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When delegation isn’t enough. Sometimes the decisions are too complex. Watch this.

Managers and leaders are taught delegation. Which they do…tasks. They delegate tasks; not decisions. Click To Tweet