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The Five Levels of Delegation

This model is described by Michael Hyatt in his book “Free to Focus.” The model categorises tasks into five levels based on the amount of control and authority a leader retains while delegating tasks to team members. This model provides a structured approach to delegation that allows leaders to tailor their level of involvement based on the competence and confidence of their team members, as well as the nature of the task at hand. The aim is to strike a balance between empowerment and accountability.
Here's a breakdown of the five levels:

  • Level 1 - Direct Supervision – Do exactly what I say - At this level, the leader closely supervises the task and provides step-by-step instructions. The team member's role is mainly to follow directions and execute the task as directed. This level is suitable for tasks that are new, complex, or critical.
  • Level 2 - General Supervision - Research the topic and report back - The leader provides guidelines and expectations but allows the team member to use their judgement to execute the task. While the leader still monitors progress, the team member has more autonomy in decision-making. This level is suitable for tasks that the team member is familiar with but may require occasional guidance.
  • Level 3 - Limited Supervision – Research and recommend a course of action - In this level, the team member is given more autonomy in planning and execution. The leader defines the desired outcome and provides some boundaries, but the team member has the flexibility to determine the approach. The leader checks in periodically for updates. This level is suitable for tasks that the team member is experienced in and can handle independently.
  • Level 4 - Minimal Supervision – Decide and inform me - At this level, the team member takes full ownership of the task, including planning, execution, and decision-making. The leader is only informed of progress and results without being involved in the details. This level is suitable for tasks that the team member is highly skilled at and can manage without constant oversight.
  • Level 5 - Complete Delegation – Decide and Act - This is the highest level of delegation, where the team member has full authority and accountability for the task. The leader trusts the team member's expertise and judgement completely, and the leader's involvement is minimal. This level is suitable for tasks that the team member is an expert in and can handle without any input from the leader.
Each level gives the team member more autonomy, and the leader should decide which level to use based on the complexity of the task and the individual’s competence and experience. The goal is to empower team members to take ownership of tasks, which can lead to higher job satisfaction and better overall team performance.
For more on the topic of delegation, view our article 7 Models for Delegation.
Trevor O'Sullivan

Trevor O'Sullivan

General Manager. Since the early 2000s, Trevor has worked with thousands of Talent Management professionals to develop and apply assessment-based talent management solutions for selecting, developing and managing people. Trevor is an active member of the TTI Success Insights (TTISI) Global Advisory Council, contributes to TTISI product development and is a regular presenter at TTISI-R3. He is honoured to have received multiple Blue Diamond Awards and, more recently, the Bill Brooks Impact Award recognising his contributions to the TTISI global network.

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