Servant Leadership Workplace-Purposeful Delegation

Purposeful Delegation – A Key to Staff Development

Purposeful delegation is one of the three distinctive practices of servant-leaders in the workplace.*

Why is purposeful delegation so important?

For one thing, it’s the best way to develop people.

Here’s a quote making that point, which is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

The so-called “cone of learning” is a related version of the same idea:

“People generally remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and 90% of what they do.” **

In short, people grow and develop best by doing.

And because the growth and development of people is a priority of servant-leaders in the workplace, it stands to reason that purposeful delegation is vitally important.***

We add the qualifier “purposeful” to emphasize what distinguishes servant-leaders from other delegators at work.

Servant-leaders delegate intentionally, mindfully – and purposefully – with the goal of helping others to grow and develop.

Sometimes that means accepting a slower turnaround time so people can learn a new skill. Sometimes that means pushing people out of their comfort zones. Sometimes that means trusting people to do a project as they see best and not micromanaging them.

Poor leaders would fail to see the value in sacrifices like those.

But servant-leaders know that any short-term pain that may come from purposeful delegation is worth the long-term gain in staff development.

For as Booker T. Washington so rightly said:

“Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him [or her].”

What do you think? Do you agree that with my assessment of purposeful delegation and servant leadership?

Let us know.

As always, we appreciate your views. Thanks!

And download our latest ebook, Servant Leadership in the Workplace: A Brief Introduction. It’s free!


* The other two practices of servant-leaders in the workplace are extreme listening and connecting followers to a mission: “Servant Leadership – 3 Workplace Practices”

** There are many versions of the “cone of learning” and, as I understand it, little science behind any of them. Nonetheless, the broader point seems hard to dispute: experiential learning is superior to other ways of learning.

*** The other two priorities of servant-leaders in the workplace are building a trusting team and achieving results: “Servant Leadership – 3 Workplace Priorities”