Delegation is necessary for an organisation to exist. In practice, many managers fail because of poor delegation.

As Harold Koontz has commented:

“Just as no one person in an enterprise can do all the tasks necessary for accomplishing a group purpose, so it is impossible, as an enterprise grows, for one person to exercise all the authority for making decisions”.

In fact, there is a limit to the numbers of persons managers can effectively supervise and make decisions for. This is known as span of management or span of control. The optimum span (i.e., the maximum number of people a manager or a supervisor can control) varies from firm to firm and organi­sation to organisation. Once the limit has been crossed, authority must be delegated to subordinates, who will make decisions within the area of their assigned duties.


How Authority is Delegated:

Authority is delegated when a superior gives a subordinate discretion to make decisions. However, superiors cannot delegate authority they do not have, whether they are board members (i.e., members of the Board of Directors), presidents, vice-presidents or supervisors.

Four Aspects:

The Process of delegation involves four things:


(1) Determining the results expected from a position;

(2) Assigning tasks to the position;

(3) Delegating authority for accomplishing these tasks; and

(4) Holding the person in that position responsible for the accomplishment of the tasks.


In practice, it is impossible to split this process, since expecting a person to accomplish goals without giving authority to achieve them is unfair, as is delegating authority without knowing the end results for which it will be used. Moreover, since the supervisor s responsibility cannot be delegated, a boss must hold sub­ordinates responsible for completing their assignments.

The Art of Delegation:

No doubt, outlining managerial goals and duties helps in making delega­tions. But, certain attitudes underlie real delegation.

The following two points may be noted in this context:

1. Receptiveness:

An underlying attitude of managers who will delegate authority is a willingness to give other people’s (the ‘subordinates’) ideas a chance. The manager who knows how to delegate must be able not only to welcome the ideas of others but also to help others and to compliment them on their ingenuity.

2. Willingness to let go:

A manager who will effectively delegate author­ity must be willing to release the right to make decisions to subordinate. So, managers who move up the executive ladder should not make decisions for the position they have left. If managers insist on confirming every purchase or approving the appointment of every labourer or secretary a lot of time will be wasted unnecessarily and attention will be diverted from far more important decisions.

Managers will enhance their contributions to the firm if they concentrate on tasks that contribute most to the firm’s objectives and assign to subordinates other tasks even though they could accomplish them better themselves. Successful delegation depends on selecting the person in the light of the job to be done.



Delegation implies a trustful attitude between superiors and sub-ordinates. The reluctance to delegate and to trust subordinate” comes ‘ from the superior’s inadequate planning and fear of loss of control.