3 Steps To Delegating As A Physician Leader by Dr. Lisa Herbert

leadership physicianleaders womeninleadership Oct 10, 2020
physician leadership with Dr. Lisa Herbert

Hi Physician Leaders,

I'm Dr. Lisa Herbert, Board Certified Family Physician, Best Selling Author, Speaker, and Executive Leadership Coach. I help physicians transition into leadership roles so they can be the respected voice in healthcare. 

This blog is about the importance of delegating. Physician leaders must be able to delegate effectively. The most successful leaders treat delegation as an essential part of their leadership approach. Decisions are made on activities by deciding which areas of work, routine activity, stand-alone projects, absence cover, key operational decisions, emergency or business disaster events, and strategic level decisions, should have responsibility or authority delegated to specific team members. It involves forecasting and scenario planning, in order to determine which activities, and in which circumstances, should responsibility and authority be given. It requires the delegating leader(s) to analyze thoroughly the planned activity and potential events, in order to identify where delegation should take place, and to whom it should be given.


Here are the steps that leaders should take when deciding on delegation:

  1. Select the team members to delegate to, by identifying the current roles, responsibilities, and authority of those individuals and teams. Evaluate the skills, abilities, and development potential, of existing (senior management) individuals and teams. Assess the degree of responsibility and authority that can be given to individuals and teams. Identify coaching and-or training needs to prepare individuals and teams for delegation. These steps are important because delegation will not be effective if it is given to an individual who is not capable of using the delegated powers effectively. Where gaps are identified, training or coaching should be provided to fill that gap. If the corrective action needs to be long term, then the delegation should be delayed until that process is complete.


  1. Decide and agree on the responsibilities, levels of authority, and objectives, for each individual. Discuss these with the parties involved and agree on these things. One of the most critical stages is that the details of the delegated responsibility and authority are explained, discussed, and agreed upon. It is at this point that the leader(s) should aim to gain commitment to the delegated responsibilities and authority, with targets and deadlines.


  1. Clarify the boundaries, by defining the limits of the delegated power, Discuss and agree to these boundaries and agree on the action that should be taken when the boundaries are reached. The leader must understand and accept that delegation does not mean abandoning responsibility. The ultimate responsibility still lies with the leader. Delegated powers must be managed and supported by the leader. The individual being given delegated powers must be clear about the limits of those powers, and understand that when that boundary, that limit, is reached, they should refer back to the one who delegated to them.

Now that you have selected your team, stay tuned to hear about how to set your team up for success. 

If you are looking to transition into a leadership role or need help on your leadership journey download my free guide here, The 10 Steps You Need to Successfully Transition Into a Leadership Role. 

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