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Most decisions are delegated downwards and involve subordinates. Although final responsibility remains with the delegator, remember that you are responsible for the success of your own performance when asked to undertake and complete a task.


Coping With Delegation

If a superior delegates a decision to you, you need to know whether you have total responsibility, or whether the delegator wants to remain the ultimate power of approval. If delegation is total, you are required only to keep the delegator informed on “need-to-know” basis, both for the decision process and its implementation. If the delegator interferes heavily, do not obey unquestioningly, but try using your powers of argument and diplomacy to get your own way. Consider the personality of delegator when using your course of action.


Making a Contribution

If you are invited to help a decision-maker, you may be required to draw up a scenario, consider competitive response, explore technical limitations and opportunities, and so on.  Remember that your mission is to assist rather than usurp, but take full advantage of the opportunity to influence the decision in whatever way you think is best.

State your opinion without fear or favour : pulling punches does not help anyone. Do not be tempted to trim your views to fit those of the decision-makers – you will be letting everyone down.


Seeking Clarification.

It is vital to be clear about any task delegated to you. If you are not sure that you have fully understood your boss at the briefing, note down any point you need clarifying. Whether the reason is a failure to convey the brief clearly on the part of your boss or simply that there is a lot of information to process at once, you must seek to clarify unanswered questions. Do not seek clarification too often, gather all the points on which you are unclear, and request one session to clear them all.


Understanding Accountability

To carry out a task successfully, check what you are accountable for. What are you expected to do, how, and by when? To enable you to monitor and execute your task satisfactorily, device your own action plan. However, there is a wider issue of responsibility – sticking to your accountable requirements may not be enough. Think carefully about your relationship with other people and other tasks, and keep these shared goals firmly in mind. Your aim should be to deliver a small success as part of a wider, overall success.



Do question a superior’s decision if it seems wrong.

Do keep asking questions until you understood the brief.

Do feed back your understanding to any colleagues involved in carrying out the brief.

Do protest politely if interference from above is excessive.



Don’t try to take over a superior’s decision.

Don’t just accept a decision for the sake of keeping the peace.

Don’t forget that decisions have to be “sold” to the people making the ultimate decisions for you.

Don’t forget your responsibilities to those working with you.



Issues on which you are unclear should be noted down on paper if you are seeking clarification.

Senior colleagues may accept your idea more readily if you can persuade them that the idea was originally theirs.

You must seek help at once if a delegated decision goes wrong.

It is counterproductive to become a “yes” [person.



Do not provide your delegator with too many report updates.

When asked to advise, think what you will do if a decision was yours only.

Do not give in to interference from above too easily, but speak cogently in support of your case.

Bernard Taiwo
I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.