[IMGCAP(1)]The ability to delegate is the single most essential leadership skill for organizational growth and for maximized the productivity of any professional. Even the most brilliant CPAs can only grow their business if there is someone else who can take some of the workload.

A good example would be CPAs who decides to hang out their own shingle. In the beginning, the only billable hours are those the CPA works. If the CPA is sick or takes a vacation, there are no billable hours—no revenue—no cash coming into the business.

In order to grow, the CPA hires employees. The CPA delegates necessary activities to the employees that do not require a license or a special skill. When CPAs have more clients than they can serve, the CPA hires an associate CPA or creates a partnership. Then, the CPA practice expands to an additional office in the next town, and so forth.

This same principle applies to all businesses and organizations. Since the ability to grow is limited by the ability to delegate work, mastering the principles of delegation is critical for every exceptional leader.

Additionally, only those who can effectively delegate can grow within their own organization. Leaders must capitalize on the skills and time of those they lead in order to have the requisite time to strategize, prioritize and innovate. The leader who delegates to competent employees is the leader who gets promoted.

This is an acrostic that I wrote in a book I co-authored with my brother, Russ Allred, called "The Family Business—Power Tools for Survival, Success & Succession" (Berkley Books, New York 1997).

Determine who should do the job.
You have to really know your team and have the ability to hire and retain those who are qualified to do a job that is worthy of your business.

Express confidence in their ability.
Since you chose the person to do the job, tell them why you are confident that they will do a good job. A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.

Let them know what you expect.
Exceptional leaders do not throw their employees into deep water and expect them to learn how to swim. Exceptional leaders explain the purpose of the project, offer all the information they will need and answer their questions.

Establish a negotiated deadline.
It is unreasonable to assign a deadline without getting input from the person doing the job. Dictating an unrealistic deadline is a sure way to achieve failure.

Get a commitment to the job and the deadline.
This step allows everyone to confirm what needs to be done and when it needs to be finished. Commitment produces miracles.

Allow them to use their imagination and initiative.
When you chose who was going to do the job, you decided that they were qualified. So, get out of their way and let them impress you with what they can do. It might not be the same as you would do it because it might be better.

Train them by following up, not taking over.
Follow-up and communication are essential to every delegated duty. Mid-course corrections often need to be made. Collaboration will help you and your employees find a better solution. If your part is to nit-pick, complain and take over, it is you that is the limiting factor in your business.

Express appreciation for actual results.
Hollow compliments, because they sound good and make you seem like a nice person, are detrimental to an organization and to your credibility. On the other hand, a genuine compliment that includes details as to why you are complimenting, is one of the most motivating things you can do for your organization and each individual employee.

If you use these principles of delegation, you will be a more effective leader and those you lead will be more satisfied and produce results beyond your expectations. The result will be a growing and more profitable business.

Roger C. Allred, CPA, is a management consultant, professional trainer, and a former CFO, COO and CEO. He is also the author of “The Family Business: Power Tools for Survival, Success and Succession" (Berkley Books, 1997). For more information, visit www.allred10.com.

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