Not all of your responsibilities should be delegated. Select those tasks which could be successfully completed by others with less oversight on your part. Nehemiah knew the task before he started. In fact he knew what needed to be done months before he arrived in Jerusalem because he prayed and planned ahead.
Evaluate each task and determine what abilities, training, and gifts are needed. Can you give the whole task to one person, or a team? Do you need to assign specific people to specific projects? Nehemiah asked the people to take the responsibility for the part of the wall nearest to their home or place of work.
Select the person with the greatest match of abilities, training, experience, and gifts needed to complete the task or be the point man who can ensure that others compete the project. As you read Nehemiah chapter 3 in the Bible, you’ll notice that specific names are mentioned in relation to the section of the wall those people worked on. These people were the leaders of their families or clans.
Properly motivate and prepare your delegates for carrying out their assignment. Make sure they understand as much as you know about the task they are to do. There are no details as to what, if any, instructions Nehemiah might have given, but the leaders evidently knew what to do and how to do it.
Present them with a picture — either real or mental — of what your vision is for the project. Hand over the work for others to do, and don’t smother them with your oversight. Identify key points or dates when you want feedback about their progress. It appears Nehemiah did this, for at one point he reported that the wall “was joined together up to half its height” (4:6).
Give them the authority and resources needed to successfully complete the work. Once Nehemiah assured the leaders of the king’s support and provided the provisions, the leaders took control and carried out the responsibilities assigned to them.
Encourage independence. Don’t take back control. Give others the freedom to fail—or, as some people say, “Give them enough rope to hang themselves,” so to speak.
You know your desired outcomes. Next you need to ask, Is this task proceeding toward my desired goals? If not, what midcourse corrections might you suggest? If things are going according to plan, encourage, compliment, and offer your continued support for their leadership. Identify the measurements or outcomes you will use to determine whether the project was completed successfully—sales made, customers served, etc. In Nehemiah’s case, it was the completion of the wall in 52 days. That’s less than two months—what an incredible feat! Delegation made it possible—along with the “good hand” of the Lord (Nehemiah 2:8).
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
For more information on this topic, read
A Leader After God’s Own Heart