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Delegation and Empowerment: The Seven Levels of Delegation


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Delegation is not easy. Managers often fear a loss of control when considering allowing teams to self-organize, and creative networkers sometimes don’t know how to self-organize. A delegation board enables management to clarify delegation and to foster empowerment for both management and workers.

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Published in: Leadership & Management

Delegation and Empowerment: The Seven Levels of Delegation

  1. 1. Delegation and Empowerment © Happy Melly One BV (Original Management 3.0 Foundation Workshop Material)
  2. 2. Empower Teams: Teams can self-organize, and this requires empowerment, authorization, and trust from management.
  3. 3. How can we get people to self-organize? How do we delegate responsibilities?
  4. 4. To Control or Not to Control Central control of a complex system doesn’t work, because the central node of a network cannot possibly contain all information that is needed to make good decisions everywhere.
  5. 5. Each worker has only an incomplete mental model of all the work. And the same goes for the manager! That is why it’s best to distribute control among everyone.
  6. 6. What scientists call distributed control is usually called empowerment by management experts.
  7. 7. Many people are wrong about empowerment.
  8. 8. The Dictators
 “Workers should be empowered by managers so that they take on more responsibilities, feel more committed, and be more engaged. The managers decide who is empowered, and who is not.”
  9. 9. The Anarchists
 “Workers are already empowered by default. Nobody is needed to grant them powers. There are no managers, only leaders. And they inspire workers to exercise the powers they already have.”
  10. 10. Empowerment defined empower /əmˈpou(ə)r/
 1. (authority) to give official authority or legal power to (by legal or official means) / to invest with power 
 2. (ability) to promote the self-actualization or influence of /
 to supply with an ability

  11. 11. “I authorized (empowered) a team member to take control of our company’s bank account.”
  12. 12. “I help my team members with their ability (empowerment) to manage our social media marketing.”
  13. 13. Dictators know and understand only the first meaning of the word empowerment (authority), while anarchists favor only the second meaning (ability). In most organizations, we need both.
  14. 14. Empowerment == Distributed Control
 Empowered people improve system effectiveness and survival. Empowered organizations are more resilient and agile.
  15. 15. We aim for a more powerful system, not better-controlled people. (And besides, creative workers cannot be controlled anyway.)
  16. 16. Learn more about empowerment, authority, ability, control, accountability, responsibility and about the great exercise of DelegaEon Poker at a Management 3.0 Workshop!
  17. 17. Empowerment requires delegating decisions
 Managers often fear a loss of control when teams take over decision-making. And creative workers sometimes have no idea how to take responsibility. ?
  18. 18. Empowerment is a reflexive relationship between two equal partners. We should replace superiors and subordinates with control-givers and control-takers.
  19. 19. Giving and Taking Control
 Quite often, when managers delegate work to people or teams, they don’t give them clear boundaries of control.
  20. 20. A manager should make it perfectly clear what the person’s or team’s level of control is in a certain area.
  21. 21. Handing over control also works the other way around because of the reflexive relationship of empowerment.
  22. 22. By distributing control in an organization, we not only empower workers, we also empower the managers.
  23. 23. The Seven Levels of Delegation
  24. 24. Delegation is not a binary thing. There are more options than being a dictator or an anarchist. The art of management is in finding the right balance.
  25. 25. 1. Tell You make a decision for others and you may explain your motivation. A discussion about it is neither desired nor assumed.
  26. 26. 2. Sell You make a decision for others but try to convince them that you made the right choice, and you help them feel involved.
  27. 27. 3. Consult You ask for input first, which you take into consideration before making a decision that respects people’s opinions.
  28. 28. 4. Agree You enter into a discussion with everyone involved, and as a group you reach consensus about the decision.
  29. 29. 5. Advise You will offer others your opinion and hope they listen to your wise words, but it will be their decision, not yours.
  30. 30. 6. Inquire You first leave it to the others to decide, and afterwards, you ask them to convince you of the wisdom of their decision.
  31. 31. 7. Delegate You leave the decision to them and you don’t even want to know about details that would just clutter your brain.
  32. 32. Get Delegation Poker on
  33. 33. The 7 Levels of Delegation is a symmetrical model. It works in both directions.
  34. 34. Consult is the opposite of Advise. The 7 Levels of Delegation is a symmetrical model. It works in both directions.
  35. 35. The 7 Levels of Delegation is a symmetrical model. It works in both directions. Sell is the mirror of Inquire.
  36. 36. Dictators say, “You are not allowed to do anything except what I authorize you to do.” Anarchists say, “Go ahead, take whatever control you want!” The better choice is to say, “You can do what you want except for the areas where I place some restrictions.”
  37. 37. Delegation levels are applied to key decision areas. The “right” level of delegation is a balancing act. It depends 
 on a team’s maturity level and the impact of its decisions. Delegation is context-dependent.
  38. 38. A delegation board enables management to clarify delegation and foster empowerment for both management and workers.
  39. 39. Delegation increases status, power, and control. A system with distributed control has a better chance of survival than a system with centralized control.
  40. 40. As a manager, I don’t manage people, I manage the system. And I don’t empower our workers, I empower the organization.
  41. 41. Management 3.0 is not another framework, it’s a mindset, combined with an ever-changing collecEon of games, tools, and pracEces to help any worker manage the organizaEon. It’s a way of looking at work systems. Management 3.0 examines how to analyze that system to come up with the right soluEons for be[er leadership across organizaEons. Management 3.0 FoundaEon Workshops are all about principles and pracEces. Combining the best of classical thinking with a fresh approach and new insights. All embedded in a social context and in the networked businesses we work in today.
  42. 42. Book your Management 3.0 Workshop today and improve your Leadership Skills. Visit