Recently I was asked the question, “Is there really a need for delegation of authority in the administration of a small independent school?” I believe the answer to that question is a resounding YES – and the answer is the same in the administration of any other organization – no matter the size. The need for delegation is true for the leader delegating and the individual to whom responsibilities are delegated. Leaders of successful organizations understand their limitations and the need to protect boundaries by not trying to do it all. Successful schools are populated by faculty and staff members who feel ownership, believe they are trusted in their roles, and possess clear expectations and resources to fulfill those expectations when tasks are delegated to them.
Delegation indicates that a school leader trusts his or her team. Trust is a two-way street. Research has shown that the more leaders trust those they supervise, the more employees extend trust to their leadership. David Horsager makes the following observation based on research in both the public and private sectors:
“Trust can accelerate, and mistrust can destroy any business, organization, or relationship. The lower the trust, the more time everything takes the more everything costs, and the lower the loyalty of everyone involved. By contrast, greater trust brings superior innovation, creativity, freedom, morale, and productivity.” (The Trust Edge)
A consistent focus on the development of trust results in leaders who expand their influence and improve morale. Leaders with a high level of trust see greater productivity and commitment from those they supervise.
Delegation of authority and its associated responsibility demonstrates that school leaders value others’ expertise and empowers others to take action based on their unique skill-set and knowledge, something that all successful schools NEED!
©Toby A. Travis, Ed.D.
Additional Reading Recommendations:
- Jonathan Bendor, A. Glazer, and T. Hammond, “Theories of Delegation,” Annual Review of Political Science 4, no. 1 (2001): 235.
- Einar M. Skaalvik and Sidsel Skaalvik, “Teacher Self-Efficacy and Perceived Autonomy: Relations With Teacher Engagement, Job Satisfaction, and Emotional Exhaustion,” Psychological Reports 114, no. 1 (2014): 68-77.
- Joyce Berg, John Dickhaut, and Kevin McCabe, “Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History,” Games and Economic Behavior 10, no. 1 (1995): 122-142.