Take Responsibility for Your Delegation

By Irene Leonard, Lawyer Coach    

Being able to delegate well is one of those skills that makes a lawyer feel great about his or her practice. Why? Because if you can efficiently and cost-effectively delegate all the stuff you don't like to do and just do the stuff you do like to do, the result is a law practice you enjoy.

In my work, I've experienced time and time again lawyers wanting to blame the person to whom the task was delegated for poor results, rather than themselves. There are reasons that the results were not what you wanted. Learning the fine art of delegation includes taking responsibility for your delegation skills by becoming aware of the reasons a delegated task did not turn out well, so you can improve.

Developing good delegating skills, for the purpose of this article, does not mean abdicating the task or project. It's important that you realize there is a difference between delegating and abdicating.

If you want to abdicate, then you need to make sure the person to whom you abdicate the project is as good as you are, has as much experience and thinks the same way you do. Your responsibility in that situation is to make sure you follow extremely good hiring skills. There is an art to that. too.

If, however, you want to master the fine art of delegation because you're not happy with the results you get when you delegate, then the following is what you should do better:

Running a good law practice means taking responsibility for all the things that go wrong and figuring out how to improve them. Blaming people to whom you give work won't help you be a better delegator. Figuring out how they failed and what you can do to overcome their shortcomings is your role as a good delegator. If they didn't have a clue and did a poor job, you should have learned they weren't doing it well while they weren't doing it well.

Don't use the excuse that it takes too much time to monitor or train. Look at the long-term picture of running your practice and be willing to invest the time. Ultimately, when you delegate well, you'll have more time to grow, manage and enjoy all aspects of your practice.

Irene Leonard has been a professional business coach for lawyers and other professionals for the past 12 years, after practicing law for 18 years. Leonard helps lawyers become skilled at the art of delegation, especially after they have enhanced their marketing or rainmaking skills. She can be reached at 206-723-9900 or through her website, www.CoachingForChange.com. © 2010 Irene Leonard.

The article was published in the August 2010 edition of the KCBA Bar Bulletin