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Importance of Delegation

Delegation has a distant origin. According to the Old Testament, when Moses was faced with a problem, which he and his followers found difficult to resolve, he was advised by his father-in-law, Jethro, as follows: “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you: you are not able to perform it alone. Listen now to my voice. Choose able men from all the people, and let them judge the people at all times; every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves; so it will be easier for you and they will bear the burden with you”.

Delegation is a universal process. Wherever human beings live or work in groups, one or the other form of delegation is practiced by them. The head of the family delegates some of his powers to other members of legislatures. Members of legislature delegate their authority to an elected leader who, in tum, delegates some of his authority to the cabinet members chosen by him.

In fact, the need for delegation arises because it is impossible for an individual, howsoever competent and capable he may be, to manage and control anything done even on a modest scale. Physical and mental limitations of an individual become all the more pronounced when it comes to management of a business enterprise. As E.F.L. Brech has put it, “The tasks involved in the management process of a particular enterprise are too large, either because the amount of responsibility, or mental energy and so on, called for are too big for one individual; or because the task entitled require rather more than one individual can make available single- handed.”

Or, as Lounsbury Fish says, “An individual is only one manpower”. Singlehanded, he can accomplish only so much in a day. The only way he can achieve more is through delegation – through dividing his load and sharing his responsibilities with others”.

Through delegation, an individual can multiply himself and perform several simple and complex tasks. Take the case of the principal of a college. His responsibility is to run the college properly and he has the necessary authority for this purpose. But cannot discharge his responsibility without delegation. He cannot simultaneously look after sports, games, and other extra curricular activities. He cannot also find time to attend to the office, incoming and outgoing letters and, above all, proper discipline in the college. For discharging his responsibility efficiently, the principal needs to delegate authority to a number of persons such as class teachers, games teachers, teachers in charge of extra-curricular activities, office superintendent, and so on.

Delegation enables a person not only to discharge his responsibility but also to discharge it efficiently and economically, because in that case he can secure the benefits of specialized knowledge and expertise of several persons. For a business with branches situated at different places, there is no alternative to delegation. Delegation ensures continuity in business, because managers at lower levels are enabled to acquire valuable experience in decision – making and they gain enough competence to fill higher positions in case of need.