As a head, you are expected to manage the school through your
own work, the work of other teachers, staff and even pupils.
You may have heard of sayings like 'Many heads are better than
one', 'Many hands make a load lighter', etc. and certainly as
a manager of a school you cannot achieve your goals and objectives
if you do all the tasks alone. In other words, you cannot teach
all the subjects in the school, head all the departments, be
on duty every day of the week, deal with all the correspondence
and discipline cases, be in charge of all the clubs and so on.
You will need to use the talents of the teachers who work under
you, not fearing that they will take over from you, but rather
trusting them and having confidence in them. Moreover, making
use of even the most critical or unco-operative members of your
staff may result in their trusting you and feeling more motivated
and needed. By doing the above you will actually be delegating
responsibilities and duties to your teachers, and in this unit
we will explore further the delegation process, considering
its importance and the barriers to its effectiveness.
Individual study time: 2 hours
After working through this unit you should be able to:
understand the importance of delegation, and outline
the key principles and procedures involved in delegation
direct, support, develop and motivate the staff working
in your school by giving them responsibilities, duties and
tasks that are appropriate to their talents, abilities and
build a team amongst your teachers through sharing
the school workload by more effective delegation
improve your own managerial performance by alleviating
pressures in your time and improving the flow of work in school.
What is delegation?
Delegation is a process by which managers, such as school
heads, transfer part of their authority to subordinates, for
the performance of certain tasks and responsibilities. By
assigning tasks to subordinates to perform on your behalf,
you can enable the decentralisation of authority or office
functions, the sharing of duties/tasks within the school and
the grouping of duties into departments with group heads for
easier management. Since delegation can take place at all
levels of management, department heads themselves may become
involved in delegation.
The importance of delegation
(1) Think back over your work for the past few months and make
a note of any tasks and responsibilities which you delegated
to a subordinate. Why did you do this?
(2) List some of the factors to be taken into account to ensure
You will probably have given a variety of reasons for delegating
the tasks you did, including such things as improving the
flow of work and the management of your own time. The following
summary highlights the importance of delegation in schools:
1 In a school of 1,000 learners and 60 teachers the head
cannot control every activity.
2 There is a physical and mental limit to the workload capacity
of any individual or group in authority.
3 Delegation gives time to the head to concentrate on other
4 It is a way of preparing your juniors to handle higher and
more challenging responsibilities in future, therefore a way
of training and developing them.
5 It creates confidence in your subordinates.
6 It encourages co-operation and team work and thus subordinates
feel part and parcel of the successes or failures of the school.
7 As a school grows more specialisation in management, administration
and teaching areas is necessary.
Delegation is an act of trust and an expression of confidence
of the leader in the subordinate. It is one of the most important
methods of creating and maintaining democracy in schools.
What then are some of the factors which need to be taken into
consideration to ensure effective delegation of tasks? They
delegating authority with responsibility - remember
you remain accountable for the responsibilities delegated
delegated responsibilities must be clear, specific
and effectively communicated
delegating authority with enough responsibility.
Determination of the right degree of delegation is part of
the art of management. Effective delegation means delegating
the right amount of authority and the right kind of duties.
There will always be some tasks which should not be delegated
at all. Let us summarise some of the key principles and procedures
Principles and procedures of delegation
1 Select the person to delegate to, on the basis of a sound
knowledge of staff members in terms of their varying levels
of competence, commitment and capability.
2 The nature and scope of the work to be delegated must be
clearly defined and be for the benefit of the organisation
as a whole.
3 Delegated tasks must be clearly described.
4 The person to whom a task is assigned must be capable of
carrying out the task or duty to the best of his/her ability
and willing to take responsibility.
5 Mutual co-operation, understanding and faith between the
manager and staff members is of the utmost importance to enable
delegation to be successful.
6 Some form of regular reporting to provide a means of progress
control is required.
7 Reward successful achievement of delegated tasks.
Barriers to effective delegation
Some managers are reluctant to delegate. They may choose not
to delegate tasks feeling that they can do better than anybody
else. They may feel that it will take too long a time to explain
to the subordinate undertaking the assignment. Such feelings
may be contributed by concerns such as:
Insecurity: Where the leader is not ready to take chances/risks
or fears that the subordinate may let him down.
Loss of power: If the subordinate does the task very well,
and even better than the leader would have done it.
Failure to plan ahead: This makes it difficult to decide
which task to delegate and to whom and when.
Some subordinates are reluctant to accept responsibility
due to insecurity. They wish their bosses to make decisions
for fear of being held responsible for any failure. They may
also feel that they are not given enough incentives, and are
not given proper guidance and support by the superior. Adequate
means of communication may not be available to the delegatee
for consultation with the manager if necessary.
Are you a good delegator?
How well do you stand up against these criteria?
A good delegator is one who stimulates and motivates subordinates
to undertake duties and responsibilities delegated to them
clearly indicating the standard of performance expected,
time limit and any other conditions involved
giving the delegatee a chance to perform the given
task without undue interference
appreciating the efforts the delegatee has made, and
assisting whenever assistance is needed
learning to accept that some delegated duties may not
be done as perfectly as they would by oneself
making use of the mistakes made to develop rather than
to ridicule and threaten the delegatee: however, the delegator
should make sure that the mistakes made will not endanger
(1) Refer back to your responses to the questions raised in
Activity 5.1, and taking each delegation act in turn, try to
draw up an account of how effective you were as a delegator.
You could use the above criteria to judge your performance in
each case of delegation.
(2) Are there other tasks and responsibilities which you could
(3) Draw up a brief plan of action for improving your performance
We hope you will have found the activity useful as a means
of reviewing your own performance in delegation and encouraging
you to consider how you may ensure more effective delegation
in the future. There are of course many tasks which a school
head can delegate, equally, there will be some which cannot
be delegated. Much will depend on the rules, regulations and
practices pertaining in your country.
However, in general, the school head can delegate almost
all the tasks except:
finances: for example, Authority to Incur Expenditure
admission of new pupils into the school
final decision-making on policy issues and changes
in the school
assigning of duties to the deputy head and senior teachers
communication with Ministry officials and school governing
boards or committee
recruitment of teachers
final responsibility on examinations
correspondence and communication with teachers.
In this unit we have examined the concept of delegation, the
importance of delegation and some of the key principles of
delegation. We have encouraged you to consider how you might
improve your own performance of this crucial management function,
to enable you to build a team amongst teachers through the
sharing of the workload of the school.