Delegative Leadership Style: The Ultimate Guide

Leadership is getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it." This is so true, especially when running a business. Instead, you excel at delegation, calmly assigning tasks to your team while relying on tact, skill, and a dash of strategic insight.

Delegative Leadership Style: The Ultimate Guide

"Leadership is getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it." 

This is so true, especially when running a business.

Consider what it would be like to have the leadership style of an experienced coach—without the drama. You are not in charge of everything and are not trying to manipulate things from the shadows. Instead, you excel at delegation, calmly assigning tasks to your team while relying on tact, skill, and a dash of strategic insight.

You know? Being a bit like Michael Scott?

delegative leadership

The most effective leaders are those who are skilled at delegation. Giving your team members the power, freedom, and resources they require to be successful while still offering direction and support is what it is all about. This is what the delegative leadership style also advocates.

Other schools of thought, however, contend that this strategy is ineffective. 



This article will explore all facets of this particular leadership style – from its pros and cons to how you can effectively leverage it!

First, let's get to know a bit more about the delegative leadership style!

What is delegative leadership?

delegative leadership style

Laissez-faire leadership, also called delegative leadership, is a delegating management style in which managers give their team members the freedom and autonomy to take independent actions and complete tasks. 

The French phrase "laissez-faire" translates to "let people do as they choose" – the complete opposite of micromanaging. Laissez-faire leaders allow their subordinates to manage their workstations and make decisions. While they trust them to handle the specifics and execution of their tasks and projects, they provide their team with support, guidance, consultation, and training as needed. 

Laissez-faire leaders are at ease in delegating tasks, which is why they are known as delegative leaders. This type of leadership is characterized by minimal involvement in day-to-day team decision-making and task completion, as well as a hands-off approach. 

Delegative leaders must have the following qualities:  

  • They prefer to concentrate on overarching strategies and objectives rather than getting bogged down in the details of projects. 
  • They prefer that their staff rely on one another for assistance rather than approaching management for aid because they trust them to act independently.  
  • They are forgiving of errors that have no significant impact on timelines or other vital results. 

Challenges of using the delegative leadership style

Lack of direction risk: Delegative or other leadership styles may result in a lack of precise direction if they are not used wisely. If team members are given insufficient guidance or unclear expectations, they may struggle.

Unreadiness of team members: One of the leading causes of delegative leaders failing is not checking to see if their workers have the abilities and resources to finish their tasks without close supervision. The effectiveness of delegative leadership depends on how capable and competent the team members are. It might not be effective with team members who need more direction and guidance, such as inexperienced or unskilled members.

Risk of errors: Giving team members the responsibility of making decisions opens up the possibility of errors. These errors can teach us a lot, but if they are not handled correctly, they can also cause setbacks.

The ambiguity of the tasks: Many delegative leaders make the mistake of giving their teams total freedom under the mistaken belief that doing so will enable them to negotiate roles and milestone completion dates better. However, doing so transfers your leadership responsibilities to your team, frequently resulting in disaster.  

Unbalanced workload distribution: Some team members may occasionally end up with excessive work while others have less to do. This may cause resentment and low morale among the team members.

Underappreciation: One of the main criticisms of the delegative leadership approach is that staff members have so much freedom that they lose touch with their managers. Employees in operational roles, in particular, may feel underappreciated because, despite being essential to the smooth operation of your company, their work is frequently not eye-catching enough to garner recognition. This negatively affects the productivity and retention of your team.

pros and cons of delegative leadership style

Benefits of using the delegative leadership style 

Studies demonstrate that if you manage to surpass the potential negative outcomes of delegative leadership, you can establish a workplace where driven employees can enhance their abilities and explore innovative ideas without any unnecessary limitations.

Here are a few benefits associated with delegative leadership:

More contented workers: Delegative leadership allows workers to use their unique talents and make decisions about their work. Additionally, employees might be able to identify various task-solving strategies that play to their unique strengths. This frequently leads to greater workplace flexibility, improving employee satisfaction and corporate culture. It may also reduce disciplinary incidents, resulting in better relationships between leaders and employees. 

Better team cohesion: Leaders who trust their employees are more likely to gain that trust in return. When an organization's culture is defined by a high level of trust, there is a greater sense of cohesion, collaboration, and camaraderie. As a result, teams and organizations as a whole are better able to align around shared goals and deliver high-quality results.

Continuous improvement: Delegative leaders often take a backseat to the work that needs to be done and let others take charge. If handled well, this dynamic presents many opportunities for your team to lead continuous improvement projects. Once everyone on your team feels at ease using the delegative leadership framework, they should proactively offer to help with any problems that arise.

Enhanced trust and open communication: Delegative leadership reflects favorably on you and your team and fosters trust among all parties. Your team learns to think independently while still collaborating and receiving feedback from their coworkers if you can master this leadership style. This approach can be great for fostering open communication and trust between staff and management.

Less burnout: Delegative leadership can successfully shield workers from being overburdened and worn out. Everyone is aware that micromanagers are unpleasant to work for. Employees want managers who trust them to do their jobs without constantly interfering; they do not want their work constantly nitpicked or critiqued. Delegative leaders are best positioned to alleviate that stress, ensuring employee satisfaction and preventing their direct reports from becoming burnt out on the job.

A culture of innovation: The ability to approach issues with fresh perspectives directly impacts fostering an innovative mindset throughout the organization. People work better and more innovatively when there is less managerial oversight and more freedom to think outside the box. This extends to developing goods and services that better meet customer expectations, in addition to resulting in the development of daily processes that are more effective.

Strategic skill distribution: Delegative leadership enables the strategic application of skills and resources. It allows team members to take on new roles and responsibilities without getting bogged down in details. Team members can concentrate on their strengths and areas of contribution by delegating tasks. Compared to directive leadership, which is more rigid and inflexible, delegation can be more flexible. 

When to use and avoid this leadership style?


Here are some scenarios where the delegative leadership style performs best:

  • Delegative leadership is most effective when working with experienced and skilled team members with the knowledge and capability to handle their responsibilities independently. Leaders can rely on these individuals to make informed decisions and take responsibility for their work.
  • It is best suited for projects or tasks that require creative thinking and where team members are best placed to generate creative solutions. It allows for quick decision-making and adaptability in rapidly changing or dynamic work environments because team members are empowered to respond to challenges and opportunities as they arise.
  • Delegative leadership can be useful in situations where leaders need to focus on higher-level strategic tasks, such as long-term planning and decision-making, by delegating routine and operational responsibilities to the team.


In general, this leadership style is inappropriate for:

  • Situations in which efficiency and productivity are the primary concerns. Some people struggle with setting their own deadlines, managing their own projects, and problem-solving. When team members do not receive enough guidance or feedback from leaders, projects can get off track, and deadlines can be missed.
  • Situations that necessitate close supervision, precision, and attention to detail. A more managerial or authoritative style may be more appropriate in high-stakes and high-pressure work environments where every detail must be perfect and completed on time. 
  • Situations in which people are incapable of setting timelines or managing projects. In this scenario, using a delegative leadership approach can result in poor performance and missed deadlines, especially if group members are unsure of what to do or lack the skills required to perform tasks with little to no direction.

Tips for being an effective Delegative Leader

Here are some pointers to help you succeed as a delegated leader:

  • As important as it can be to foster an environment that rewards initiative and innovation, it is crucial to maintain a sense of teamwork within your organization. You can accomplish this by ensuring that your company's projects are team-based and encouraging open communication between you and your staff.
  • Do not overdo it with delegation; it can be less effective in some situations than it is in others. Use a leadership framework that includes both delegation and other leadership philosophies like servant or coach leadership.
  • Being accessible is important because, although delegation can be a powerful tool, it can occasionally cause a chasm between you and your staff. A clear project implementation plan with well-defined roles, objectives, and timelines can further reduce ambiguity and improve teamwork. It might be beneficial to communicate with your staff frequently, stay present in the workplace, and provide a method for your staff to get in touch with you whenever they need help.

Virtual Assistance: An Incredible Solution for Delegative Leaders

Here are some ways a delegative leader can benefit from hiring a virtual assistant:

Automation of tasks: Virtual assistants can speed up repetitive, time-consuming tasks like administrative work, scheduling, email management, and data entry. The leader can use this automation to free up valuable time to make more strategic decisions.

Information gathering: Virtual assistants can collect and organize information from various sources, producing reports or summaries that the leader can use to make informed decisions. This saves the leader time on data collection and analysis.

Facilitating communication: Virtual assistants can schedule meetings, coordinate with team members, and ensure that communication flows smoothly within the organization. The leader can concentrate on important issues by delegating routine communication tasks to them, such as sending meeting invitations, follow-up emails, and reminders.

Task assignment and tracking: Virtual assistants can assist the leader in assigning tasks to team members, setting deadlines, and tracking progress. They can send reminders and updates to ensure that projects stay on track without the need for constant supervision.

Knowledge retrieval: Virtual assistants can act as a repository of organizational knowledge, giving users quick access to information, documents, and previous decisions. This ensures that the leader and team members can access relevant information easily.

Continuous learning: Virtual assistants can curate pertinent articles, reports, and training materials to assist the leader in staying current on industry trends, best practices, and emerging technologies. They can also recommend learning opportunities and courses that align with the leader's professional development objectives.

Employee learning and development: Delegative leaders frequently empower their teams to make decisions and assume responsibility for their tasks. Virtual assistants can help here by providing employees with the resources, information, and guidance they need when they need it.

Flexibility and availability: Virtual assistants can work around the clock, ensuring that tasks are managed, and communication is maintained even when not in the office or traveling.

Wishup: Hire the best virtual assistants

wishup virtual assistants

Wishup, a well-known virtual assistant company, connects entrepreneurs, startups, and professionals with a carefully curated pool of highly qualified virtual assistants.

These skilled professionals bring a wealth of experience and are ready to assist you in meeting your specific leadership needs. We offer various virtual assistant services that are carefully tailored to your specific needs. These services include client interactions, data entry, research tasks, and even bookkeeping.  

Each virtual assistant is ready to use their expertise to assist you in various crucial roles. Numerous businesses have sought their assistance on numerous high-stake projects. 

Wishup makes it easy to hire a virtual assistant. These professionals seamlessly integrate into your team, providing valuable support due to their familiarity with various processes and methodologies.

Wishup provides access to a diverse pool of skilled professionals, allowing you to choose an assistant who perfectly matches your specific requirements. You can choose whether you need local expertise or prefer to tap into a global talent pool.

Key Benefits:

  • Wishup carefully chooses the top 0.1% of global candidates to join their professional network.
  • Bilingual and multilingual virtual assistants are readily available.
  • All assistants have relevant degrees and have worked in their fields for over three years.
  • For your convenience, we offer a free seven-day trial period.
  • Wishup's virtual assistants have over 200 skills, are versatile, and can leverage 70+ no-code tools.
  • If a virtual assistant's services are dissatisfactory, instant replacements are offered.
  • By signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement, all Wishup experts prioritize data security.
  • We also offer a dedicated account manager to help you through the hiring process, ensuring a smooth experience.

Key Takeaways

Don’t do it all yourself; delegate some.

virtual assistant

While delegative leadership can be beneficial in many situations, leaders must strike the right balance between delegation and support. Leaders must remain available to provide guidance and resources as needed and ensure effective delegation. 

We recommend hiring a virtual assistant to thrive in this leadership style. They provide numerous benefits and, like water, adapt to your leadership approaches.

Contact our experts today and learn more about our virtual assistant services via a free consultation. You can also mail us at [email protected].


What is the best example of delegative leadership?

Steve Jobs is one of the most well-known delegative leadership examples. In addition to encouraging collaboration through facilitative leadership, the late Apple CEO believed in empowering his team and delegating leadership, resulting in some of the most innovative products in history. For example, Jobs famously encouraged his team to take risks and make mistakes, resulting in the iPod's creation.

What are the advantages of Delegative leadership?

It strengthens team members' confidence and motivation by entrusting them with decision-making authority and responsibility. This approach promotes creativity and innovation by encouraging team members to think independently and explore new ideas. Delegative leadership allows for greater focus on strategic tasks, making it effective in dynamic and fast-paced environments.

What are the principles of Delegative leadership?

principles of delegative leadership

Delegative leadership is founded on trusting team members and granting autonomy and freedom. Leaders who adopt this style delegate decision-making authority and responsibilities to their teams, trusting their team's competence and judgment. This leadership style values individual contributions and fosters a culture of self-reliance and accountability, allowing team members to thrive in an environment of empowerment and minimal leader interference.