Effective Delegation for CEOs : How to Improve Decision-Making Efficiency and Preserve Leadership Capacity

Learn how effective delegation can help CEOs improve decision-making efficiency and preserve their leadership capacity. Discover key strategies for delegation, such as setting decision-making standards, defining outcomes, designing strategies, and hiring the right team members. With these tactics, CEOs can reduce decision fatigue, prioritize their most important tasks, and lead their teams to success.


Gloria Tshikaya

2/13/20234 min read

Delegation is an essential skill for CEOs who want to prioritize their leadership duties while entrusting other team members to handle other responsibilities. Effective delegation not only improves productivity but also offers opportunities for skill development and growth for team members. Without delegation, CEOs may become overwhelmed and stressed, which can lead to poor decision-making and negatively impact the success of their business. Delegation is, therefore, crucial to preserving leadership capacity and efficiency.

Effective Delegation Strategies for CEOs

Identify tasks that can be delegated

CEOs should identify tasks that can be delegated to others while ensuring that critical decision-making responsibilities remain with them. This includes tasks that are time-consuming, repetitive or require specific skill sets.

Assess team members' skills and strengths: CEOs should assess the skills and strengths of their team members to determine who is best suited to handle specific tasks. This allows CEOs to delegate tasks that align with team members' expertise and interests, leading to better outcomes.

Provide clear instructions and expectations: It's important to ensure that team members understand what is expected of them and provide clear instructions on how to complete the task. This includes deadlines, goals, and any specific requirements.

Offer support and feedback: CEOs should offer support and feedback to team members to ensure that they have the resources and information needed to complete the task. This includes regular check-ins, feedback on performance, and addressing any concerns or questions.

Empower team members: Empowering team members by giving them the authority to make decisions and take ownership of the task builds confidence and improves job satisfaction while freeing up time for the CEO. Improving Decision-Making EfficiencyCEOs can improve their decision-making efficiency by delegating effectively. This allows them to focus on critical decision-making responsibilities while other team members handle other tasks.

Additionally, the following tips can help improve decision-making efficiency:

Prioritize tasks: CEOs should prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance, allowing them to focus on critical decision-making responsibilities.

Gather information: Gathering as much information as possible helps CEOs make informed decisions.

Consider different perspectives: Considering different perspectives helps CEOs make well-rounded decisions that consider different viewpoints.

Set clear goals: Setting clear goals helps CEOs make decisions that align with the organization's objectives.

Evaluate outcomes: Evaluating outcomes helps CEOs determine the effectiveness of their decisions and adjust their approach as needed.

Improving Decision-Making Efficiency

The average adult makes 35,000 decisions in any given 24-hour period. You can imagine how many decisions a CEO has to make during that time. Especially as they lead others who are also making thousands of decisions for the business.

It’s the reason why Steve Jobs decided to wear the same thing - to decrease his decision fatigue and save it for the decisions that mattered most. It’s the reason why other successful leaders decide to eat the same breakfast, complete the same morning routines and drive the same route. It’s one less decision to make. So then why do so many leaders still find themselves, making key decisions on behalf of their teams and doing work that is not for them to do? It’s not because they haven’t experienced decision fatigue, but it’s because they convince themselves that doing it this time around will save time in the long run. And in the short-term they are right - it does.

But in the long run, it’s unsustainable and erodes their leadership over time.

This has little to do with the team’s ability, and more to do with the CEO's inability to delegate decision-making efficiently and effectively: They are not clear on the decision-making standards of the business. They are not clear about the outcome that they wish to achieve.

They haven’t created clear and succinct systems and processes for reaching the desired outcome.

They haven’t taken responsibility for the team they have hired and maybe need to hire if the values and skills are not a match.

They are too stretched and overworked to check in on all the moving pieces that they delegate.

When instead, as CEO they could: Have a clear decision-making standard for the business that centres on values and systems.

Be crystal clear on the vision and outcome they wish to achieve.

Design the strategy for reaching the outcomes and have this clearly shared with implementers.

Have courageous conversations with failing team members and set a grace period and the deadline for seeing a pre-described standard met. And if it’s not, agree to go separate ways. Set key milestones for checking in on delegated tasks until the work is delivered.

Notice that the second list doesn't specify that it’s the CEO who needs to be doing these things. In fact, I don’t believe they should be. Mark Zuckerberg said, “The question I ask myself almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’”. And this is what every business leader should be asking themselves.

The second list, while essential - doesn’t constitute a CEO's priorities. This is what their senior leadership support team is for. Delegation at this level goes from delegating tasks to delegating decisions in order for the CEO to create the capacity that’s required to lead in this climate. It requires a level of leadership that instills values and standards and doesn’t simply reiterate rules and to-do lists. When done correctly, delegating outcomes like this frees up the mental space and emotional energy to lead like never before. And everybody benefits as a result, at a time when true and daring leadership is truly rare.

Why Effective Delegation is Essential for CEOs
Why Effective Delegation is Essential for CEOs
Gloria Tshikaya
Gloria Tshikaya
About the contributor

Gloria Tshikaya is the Founder of Business Redefined, a boutique Business Management Agency. She is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) with the Project Management Institute (PMI) and by profession, a Global Project Manager and strategist with a BSc in International Business Management. Her 10+ years of experience had led her to successfully lead projects with brands such as Estée Lauder, Hermès, Disney, and London Business School. You can find more of her writings by joining her weekly email series, Strategic Scaling Sundays for busy CEOs who want to double their revenue while working less, without being the bottleneck. Join the series here

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