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Empowering Employees Through Delegation

The study, “Leaders' Behaviors Matter: The Role of Delegation in Promoting Employees' Feedback-Seeking Behavior” conducted among employees of a hotel group in northern China sheds light on how the managerial approach of delegation can significantly influence employee behavior, especially in terms of seeking feedback and feeling empowered. This article delves into three pivotal findings from the research, providing valuable insights for leaders aiming to cultivate a proactive, learning-oriented work environment.

Delegation Encourages Feedback-Seeking Behavior

The research found that employees who were given more responsibilities felt a stronger urge to understand how they could improve, showcasing a direct correlation between delegation and the pursuit of feedback.

The act of delegation does more than just distribute tasks; it serves as a catalyst for employees to actively seek feedback on their performance. By transferring responsibility and authority, leaders signal trust in their employees' capabilities, prompting them to engage more deeply with their roles. This engagement is not passive; instead, employees become more inclined to seek out evaluations and advice, viewing feedback as a tool for growth rather than criticism. The research underscores this point by demonstrating a clear link between delegated responsibilities and an increase in feedback-seeking behavior among employees.

Psychological Empowerment as a Mediating Factor

The study shows that employees' increased feedback-seeking behavior is not a result of additional responsibilities but the empowering effect these responsibilities have on their self-perception and motivation.

Central to the relationship between delegation and feedback-seeking is the concept of psychological empowerment. When employees are delegated tasks, they don't just see a list of duties; they perceive an opportunity to make meaningful contributions and exercise autonomy. This sense of empowerment is crucial—it transforms their mindset, making them feel more invested in their work and capable of making significant impacts. The study finds that psychological empowerment mediates the effect of delegation on feedback-seeking, meaning that the act of delegating, by itself, boosts employees' confidence and sense of value, which in turn makes them more proactive in seeking feedback.

The Role of Power Distance

For employees with a moderate to high power distance orientation, delegation acts as a stronger motivator for seeking feedback, underscoring the importance of understanding cultural dimensions in managerial practices.

The effectiveness of delegation in promoting feedback-seeking behavior is significantly influenced by the cultural context, particularly the concept of power distance. Power distance refers to the extent to which individuals accept and expect power differences within organizational hierarchies (Zhang, 2017). The research points out that in cultures or contexts where high power distance is the norm, delegation is even more effective in encouraging feedback-seeking. Employees in such environments perceive delegated tasks as a significant endorsement of their capabilities by their superiors, which motivates them to seek feedback more avidly to further prove their competence or improve their performance.

The Main Takeaway

The insights from this study illuminate the impact of delegation on fostering a feedback-seeking culture within organizations. It's not just about assigning tasks; it's about empowering employees, making them feel valued, capable, and motivated to pursue excellence through continuous learning and feedback. However, leaders must also consider the cultural backdrop against which these dynamics unfold, as cultural norms around authority and power significantly shape how delegation is perceived and its subsequent effects on employee behavior. By navigating these nuances thoughtfully, leaders can unlock the full potential of their teams, driving growth, innovation, and a resilient organizational culture.


Zhang, X., Qian, J., Wang, B., Jin, Z., Wang, J., & Wang, Y. (2017). Leaders' Behaviors Matter: The Role of Delegation in Promoting Employees' Feedback-Seeking Behavior. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 920.

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