If you get to the end of the day and realise that you’ve helped your team do their roles, but not had a chance to do yours, it may be that you need to develop a team that takes more responsibility. It’s important for leaders to be there to help and assist their team, but you don’t want them to be completely dependent on you.

Not only will this help you in day to day work, but it will help with ensuring an effective success plan.  In a recent research report by leadership institute Roffey Park, 70% of the HR managers surveyed said succession planning was a key issue, with under half saying they were successful or very successful at developing successors.

As well as development and training, helping the team members to experience new challenges and take responsibility for driving initiatives, are areas worth considering.

But first of all, are you ready to let them take responsibility?  If there’s a part of you that is reluctant to delegate, or enjoys the “control” and status of being regularly asked for help, then you could be making a rod for your own back.  Often, we’re not even aware that this is the case, so review how you feel objectively.

Do you think you always know best?  I’ve noticed managers go into meetings with their teams, with the answers they want from them already fixed in their minds.  Therefore, any challenge from their team will be met with polite discussion but ultimately no consideration.  A team used to this behaviour from their leader may well decide to abdicate any responsibility as they know it won’t be worth trying.

As a leader, your confidence is going to be key.

  • Are you aware of your emotions and motivational needs? Are any of these holding you back from encouraging your team to take responsibility away from you?
  • What do you believe about the competency of your team? Are you biased about their abilities or skills?
  • Have you developed your delegation skills, or have you heard feedback about lack of trust?

One of the most significant motivators for your team members will be autonomy, so you may decide it’s worth finding ways to create a culture that encourages taking responsibility.

  • Fully communicate what you expect from individuals, what responsibility they should be taking, and where the boundaries lie.
  • Communicate their role in the bigger organisational picture.
  • Add “taking responsibility” to performance reviews and use the opportunity to discuss successes and challenges.
  • Provide adequate training and coaching, so that they feel competent in their skills and their ability to make decisions.
  • Provide tasks for your team that help them practice taking responsibility and feel empowered. For example, running team meetings, making choices as to how to solve problems.
  • Encourage team members to discuss options amongst themselves, and come to you only if they can’t find an answer (or, of course, if they need sign-off).
  • Be away from the office some times. Ensure they know what’s expected of them beforehand and discuss any successes and challenges when you return.
  • Inspire an environment where everyone feels comfortable to raise issues and learn from mistakes.

By encouraging your team to take responsibility, you’ll develop a good succession of individuals who can drive change, but you’ll also get more time to progress your own leadership role.


Executive coaching can help with leadership development and self-awareness for leaders and team members.  Additionally, a programme like the High Performance Culture, would provide an independent review of the current achievements and status of your team, and recommend areas of development for faster results.  Please contact us for an initial discussion.

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