How Managers Delegate Authority

Cite this article as:"How Managers Delegate Authority," in The Business Professor, updated April 1, 2020, last accessed December 4, 2020,

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How does a Manager Delegate Authority?

The delegation of authority is the process whereby a manager assigns to her direct reports the authority and accountability for the completion of work. Though the manager retains a level of authority and accountability. It is worth noting that the manager is limited in the power that she can delegate by the authority and power that she possesses.

Most importantly, the delegation of authority entails the power to make decisions that will affect the accomplishment of the assigned work. Though the subordinate is still bound by the rules and procedures of the organization.

The process of delegating authority can be broken into:

  • Assignment
  • Transfer
  • Acceptance
  • Accountability

By delegating authority, a manager delegates the role of planning and executing a plan of work to a subordinate. The manager does not, however, give up authority entirely. She now assumes the role of monitoring, assessing, and controlling the process.

The following are several principles that guide a manager in delegating authority:

  • Clear Direction – The delegation of work should be specific and clearly defined.
  • Clear Exceptions – The manager should well understand the purpose and expected result prior to delegating the work.
  • Clear Authority – The authority of the subordinate should be clearly defined.
  • Clear Chain of Command – There should be unity of command. That is, each subordinate should report to just one manager.
  • Shared Accountability – The manager and subordinate should share accountability for the delegated work.
  • Clear Hierarchy – There should be a clear organizational structure. The subordinate should know exactly to whom she is reporting at all times.
  • Autonomy – The subordinate should be afforded autonomy in carrying out her responsibilities.

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