Giving staff wings: stewardship delegation over gofer

Giving staff wings (1).png

“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.”

Dalai Lama XIV

Nurturing greatness in staff should be a goal of any manager. Great leaders spot talent and create a culture of realizing potential among their team. They aim to give their staff wings, so that they can face responsibility autonomously and fly on wards to great things. As Stephen Covey outlined in his great book on self-development: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”,  great managers do “stewardship delegation” over “gofer”.

Great managers do stewardship delegation.

Gofer delegation is when a manager focuses on passing on the way of doing the task. They dictate to the staff member how they want it to be done and leave little space for the doer to choose their own path. When delegating the task, the manger likely focuses on procedures and control over objectives. In this scenario the doer feels responsibility for doing the method they were explained but very likely feels less ownership for the results this might or might not achieve. After all the method and path wasn’t theirs, so why should they see the results as also being theirs?  The doer is likely to take an outside-in approach to problems which arise and show little desire to react with initiative to scenarios that don’t fit the delegated method. Gofer delegation is sadly how far too many managers pass on tasks.

We should delegate targets and goals over methods and procedures.

Stewardship delegation by comparison focuses on the end objectives to be achieved and leaves room for the doer to choose their own path (method) to get there. The delegating manager focuses on creating ownership for the objectives and puts less focus on explaining how to get there. Of course experience and know how should also be passed on but in a way left open to the doer on how to utilize this advantage. In stewardship delegation, the doer is far more likely to be inside out and accountable and see it as their responsibility to react to the unexpected with initiative. When connected with results, the doer will be more likely to think about objectives to be achieved over tasks to do.  After all it is their path, their mistakes to make, and they will know they will be assessed not so much by the route they took but rather by the end results achieved.


Delegating objectives and providing a framework to work within are of course not the only parts of stewardship delegation. The manager delegating must also provide a structure for accountability through check points: be that meetings, reporting back and of course end point deadlines. Also the doer should be made aware of the consequences to the team/company of not achieving the results required. What is important again is that both of these be linked to the “why of the project”, as when staff feel responsible for the objective, they will also feel personally and communally responsible for the negative results caused due to not meeting deadlines or the project failing.

Staff who identify with objectives of projects, feel more responsible for its failure.

Giving staff wings is more than recognizing your staff’s potential and utilizing stewardship delegation, it is also creating a culture of development where the staff member invests willingly in the professional and personal progress they can make at work. It is getting your team to believe in the power of positive change and embracing the yes i can culture and having the support of their leader throughout this process. As a manager responsible for strategic goals as well as people, you must align the benefits of giving staff wings to results that can be achieved from having that extra commitment and motivation level. A key characteristic of a great manager is getting their whole team to reach their full potential, and doing this is “giving your staff wings”.

 Always try to bring out the best in people. It’s very simple: listen to them, trust in them, believe in them, respect them, and let them have a go! – Richard Branson


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s