Delegate Authority, Not Just Tasks

“Delegate authority, not just tasks.” – Joe Woodward

When we first become an executive assistant, our agent gives us tasks to do. These tasks are simply things that the agent wants to take off his or her plate. So the agent is delegating these tasks to you.

The question is, has the agent also delegated authority to you? Do you have the authority to make decisions when decisions are necessary?

At a certain point it is your responsibility to assume authority if it has not already been delegated to you.

Great leaders know how to delegate authority and not just tasks. However, when you think about who gets into real estate, a lot of these agents don’t have leadership training. Sometimes they come from other sales jobs. Sometimes they come from other unrelated Industries. So they may not know how to delegate authority. They just know they need to give you things to do to free up their time to go after more sales.

So what are you doing to assume authority? And what does that even mean?

When you assume authority you are making decisions without consulting your agent. There are many decisions that you can be making that doesn’t require you to ask your agent every time you make them.

When you see that the contact management system is a mess and needs to be arranged in an organized way, it is up to you to assume the authority to put it in an organized system. You don’t need to ask your agent how he or she wants it done. You come up with the plan, run it by your agent for his or her input (not permission), and then implement the plan.

Your agent likely doesn’t care what the system is. What they care about is, does the system work, and how do I use it? As long as you can deliver on those two things, you have done your job.

You’re going to have to step up and make decisions and Implement systems without someone holding your hand and assuring you that what you are doing is correct. Don’t wait for authorization to do things. Assume you already have permission.

If for whatever reason your agent doesn’t like what you have done, there is nothing you did wrong. It can easily be fixed. It may take some time, but that’s your job. We all have things we implemented which turned out no one liked them. It’s okay.

We do what it takes to move the business forward.

The same is true when you hire a second admin.

Now your job is to delegate tasks and authority to that person to improve upon the systems that you may have already created and to implement new systems that this person sees can help the team.

When I hired Courtney as my transaction coordinator, I showed her my system for doing things. She learned that system and then made improvements upon it so that her job is easier, and she completes her tasks much more quickly than I ever did because she has streamlined the system and made it her own.

If I were standing over her shoulder and telling her how to do her job at every moment, she would have quit a long time ago. But now she loves her job because she knows she can make improvements in her position that will help her and the team close more transactions.

And quite frankly I don’t have time to look over her shoulder every hour of the day. I need her to make decisions on her own instead of coming to me for the minor things.

Now, if she runs into something she hasn’t seen before, I am happy to help her work through what decision to make. But ultimately she makes the decision not me. She is just coming to me for advice. In the end she makes the decision and deals with the consequences.

We recently implemented a new rule along these same lines. I am giving her the authority to escalate a file when it’s warranted.

Typically Courtney handles everything from contract to close. Sometimes, something unusual happens and it delays closing. Generally, this upsets the clients and they need more hand-holding to get them through the process. Courtney is very good at this, but it does take up more time than contracts that don’t have any hiccups.

If Courtney sees that too much of her time is being spent trying to work things out, she has the authority to escalate that file back to the agent for “fire fighting”. Once the problem has been resolved, it goes back to Courtney for whatever amendments or documentation that needs to take place to close the file.

This escalation process is only necessary when Courtney is at her maximum. We have discovered that 30 pending contracts is about the most Courtney can handle assuming they are all smooth sailing.

Our goal in the escalation process is to not let one bad apple ruin the entire barrel. We all know when we have problem files that take up a lot of our time, we tend to neglect the other files because there are just not enough hours in the day.

When Courtney uses the escalation process for any of the files, I don’t see this as her handing back part of her job to the agents. I see this as her using her authority to take care of business in the most efficient way possible that ensures a good outcome for the clients.

Admittedly, it took me a couple of years before I got comfortable assuming authority. The first agent I worked for never told me that I had the authority to make decisions. I think she assumed that if she taught me the job, then I would naturally just start implementing things on my own. I eventually learned that lesson, but I wish someone had told me sooner.

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Have you assumed authority? How did you do it? Tell me about your experience in the comments. And don’t forget, you can always reach me at

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