Leaders in start ups and small companies are asked to do many things with limited time and resources. They can't possibly do everything themselves (nor should they). It is absolutely critical for leaders to properly delegate.
Delegation is not just "passing the buck" to others; responsibility still lies with the leader.
Delegation is also not just blindly passing tasks to random team members. Effective delegation takes effort, preparation, and practice.
A long time ago I got an e-mail from Competitive Solutions, which now appears to be connected to, or known as Process Based Leadership. I don't have the email any longer, but want to give credit... it has stuck with me.
Here are the Four Steps to Effective Delegation:
Maintain supervisory control (in other words, don't go completely "hands off")
Observe and provide feedback
Review periodically and track progress
Validate completion of tasks - both milestones, and final/overall task
Select the task and match it to the proper employee
Consider time frame, necessary training, and ability to complete the task
Use previous experiences, utilize strengths and provide opportunity for growth
Consider desired outcomes and benefit to the employee
Communicate the task and gain commitment
Meet to discuss the task's importance and value to the organization
Explain the benefits of accomplishing the task
Clearly articulate the desired outcomes, timeframe, and results
Confirm understanding and gain commitment
Recognize both effort and results
Acknowledge growth, learning, and development
Set the tone for future delegation of tasks
Delegation, when done properly, can provide a true win-win situation. Help and support to the leader, and a valuable, rewarding experience to the employee.
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.“ – Max DePree
(sidenote: I couldn't find the original content, but this is a really good article I found on their site, on the topic of delegation. Credit "jamiee" - author of the article, who shared this quote)