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5 Ways To Delegate With Confidence

Are there times when you’ve handed off a task to someone, only to find out it wasn't done to your expectations? You might have blamed it on the individual, yet chances are, the problem lies in your delegation technique. That was true in my case. Over the years, I’ve developed five distinct approaches to delegation, which have allowed me to hand off tasks easily. Once you know which approach is optimal for your situation, you’ll be empowered to confidently distribute tasks every time.


As leaders, we might imagine delegation as merely assigning a task and sitting back to watch the magic happen. However, experience has taught us that this can either be a fantastic success or a total calamity. Therefore, it's crucial to have multiple approaches to delegation in your managerial toolbox. This way, you have the ability to adopt different delegation styles based on the situation at hand.


# 1: Set Free

This type of delegation involves explaining the high-level task or objective and then setting the person free to execute it. You’re empowering the person with complete ownership, discretion, and freedom to strategize, plan, and perform the task or achieve the goal however they see fit. Ideally, a set free approach works with individuals you have worked with for a long time and have built deep trust.

#2: Sandbox 

In this approach, you set specific parameters within which the person can operate freely. After you’ve defined what success looks like, you may provide specific guidelines like a timeline, budget, or key metrics, yet allow as much autonomy as possible within those defined boundaries. The sandbox approach is ideal when you are still evaluating an individual's abilities or when you want to provide a growth opportunity to a developing colleague.

#3: Safety Nets 

Safety nets provide checks and balances to ensure that nothing goes wrong at the last minute. For example, you might review a draft before publication, have regular check-ins on progress, or retain final decision-making authority. With safety nets, you can offer autonomy while maintaining some peace of mind, knowing that there are stop-gaps in place.

#4: Scaffolding

This approach involves providing a framework or guideposts to make the task easier to accomplish. This could look like handing over a checklist or a work plan, making a video demonstrating the task or setting up a spreadsheet structure. The key is to ensure you are not imposing unnecessary restrictions on the person.

#5: Sectioning

Sometimes you don’t want to delegate a full responsibility. In these cases, you can divide a task into smaller sections or components, and delegate one or several of them instead of the full task. It allows you to gradually increase the ownership of the individual over time or continue to contribute your unique value to the larger task while someone else takes on other parts. 

Knowing when and how to delegate is a pivotal skill for any manager. The above techniques can help you not only delegate effectively but also set your team members up for success. Remember, your role is to lead, guide, and empower your team to reach its full potential. An adaptive and considerate delegation method is a step towards achieving that goal.

Listen to the entire episode HERE to learn more about effective delegation.

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Guest Bonus: FREE Delegation Workbook

To help you take steps to delegate more responsibilities and to delegate more effectively, members of Podcast+ get the delegation workbook which recaps these five approaches and provides tips or suggestions for how to use each one.

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