Delegating vs Abdicating: How to Share Authority Without Losing Control of Your Business

by | Sep 14, 2023 | Leadership

What characterizes a leader?

Delegating is part of good leadership. In order to become a good leader, we first have to know what a good leader looks like. A leader knows the mission of the business, as well as:

  • Understanding the business vision
  • Setting and successfully relaying the business goals
  • Developing and maintaining a clear understanding of the people in the organization
  • What processes are involved in operations
  • Can define what it means for the business to succeed or fail
  • Is open to to feedback

Leadership comes in a number of “styles” that reflect the strengths of the leader. Leaders can be:

  • Empathetic
  • Visionary
  • Collaborative
  • Enthusiastic
  • Coaches
  • Pace-setting
  • Oriented to people first
  • Teaching

It’s important to understand your own strengths and weaknesses, so you are aware of what you can work on to improve your leadership skills

Delegation or abdication? What’s the difference?

Delegation is the assignment of authority to another person to carry out specific tasks. It is the process of distributing and entrusting work to another person. Delegation is also one of the core concepts of management leadership. Abdication, on the other hand, is renouncing or failing to fulfill the responsibility of your position. People in an organization genuinely want to be lead, and they – and the organization – tend to flourish when leadership is effective.

Three keys to successful delegation

Follow these steps to create success when you delegate:

  • Explain the context and purpose for doing the new skill.
  • Outline the steps involved in doing the new skill
  • Clarify by answering questions that the student or employee may have.1

Abdication in the eye care industry

What does abdication look like in an eye care practice? The owner of the practice might be failing to own his or her responsibility, and blaming the office manager, or another subordinate, for everything. Perhaps another manager is rarely or never present to assist within the office and blames their subordinates. This failure to assume responsibility tends to “trickle downhill” to the employees, who will often abdicate their own duties, and it can lead to the fall of an entire organization.

The essential difference between delegating and abdicating is that delegation requires trust, and active coaching, while abdication is simply quitting, or walking away from your responsibilities.

Essential traps to avoid in delegation

First, understand that not everyone is ready for delegation. Your staff must be prepared to assume the delegated responsibility as well as equipped to successfully perform the required tasks. Second, delegation should never be perceived as relinquishing total authority – either by the person assigning or the person assuming that responsibility. Ultimately, the responsibility for succeeding remains with the person in authority.

Strong leadership uses different styles

Leading your business correctly can involve a number of different styles of leadership. The leader must understand which is appropriate in various circumstances, in order to accomplish the vision, mission, and goals of the organization. They must understand and know their people and what motivates them. Oftentimes these different approaches overlap, and a leader should understand when to change leadership styles, and how to grow leaders within the organization. Leadership may be autocratic, democratic, transactional, transformation, or even laissez-faire. All of these styles are appropriate at different times and in different scenarios.

Constant Assessment

Positive leadership means continually assessing the mission, the people, and direction of the practice. Repeatedly measuring productivity, and remaining in a mindset of coaching your team to success are also characteristic of successful leaders. At times, you may need to change the pace of your initiatives and programs, and you’ll have moments when it’s important to get hands-on, or even hands-off. Staying vigilant about what’s happening in your practice, and how it relates to your mission will help you formulate successful strategies for implementing positive, growth-oriented leadership in yourself and in your team.


1 https://kevineikenberry.com/coaching-developing-others/three-keys-successful-delegation/

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