The One Responsibility a Leader Can’t Delegate

Help Wanted SignSixty resumes submitted and counting. A half-dozen interviews scheduled and more in the pipeline. Key team members prepared to have hour upon hour devoured in interviews, presentations, and meetings. The thought of having several weeks consumed by the process of hiring a new team member causes many leaders to delegate the responsibility to someone else…anyone else…just so long as their lives aren’t sucked into the black hole of endless interviews.

Hiring new team members is one of the most important responsibilities of a leader and is one that cannot be delegated. You can’t leave it to the personnel manager, HR, or a head hunter. They can help in the process, but it’s up to the leader to be intimately involved in the recruitment, interviews, and selection process.

I believe there are at least three key reasons why leaders shouldn’t delegate this responsibility:

1. People are your number 1 strategic advantage – The one thing that differentiates you from your competition is your people. The success of your organization rises and falls with the talent of your people, and as the leader, you need to call the shots about who is and isn’t on your team. There is a reason why the coaches of professional sports teams are increasingly wanting control over personnel decisions. If they are going to be held accountable for the performance of their team on the field or court, they want control over selecting the players. You should feel the same way.

2. Team chemistry can make or break your success – You know better than anyone else the mix of skills and personalities you need on the team. . Your job is to always raise the capabilities and performance of your team, and in order to do that, you need to be intimately involved in the hiring process. I view the hiring process as similar to the recruitment efforts of a college sports team. You want to stockpile as much talent as possible to not only replace the outgoing players, but to create a level of healthy internal competition that requires everyone to raise the level of their game. You can’t do that by outsourcing the hiring process or decision.

3. The amount of risk and investment demands it – With no disrespect to Human Resources, Personnel, or anyone else involved in the recruitment process, you will be the one stuck with a bad hiring decision, not them. The cost to replace a bad hire can range from 1.5 to 3 times the salary of the position and that is a level of responsibility that requires the leader make the decision. Should a new hire not work out, the termination process can be a lengthy and arduous process that’s even more grueling and taxing than the hiring process. The risk-reward ratio is too high for the leader to delegate the hiring responsibility to someone else.

Bringing new people on your team is one of the most important responsibilities of a leader. You will win or lose with the talent on your team and selecting new team members is not a responsibility you can, or should, delegate to someone else.

What do you think? Should a leader ever delegate the hiring decision to someone else? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

14 Comments on “The One Responsibility a Leader Can’t Delegate

  1. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts about this, Randy.

    Leaders should get involved into the hiring process a lot more than they typically do. Given I have a very usual skill set (Master in Philosophy and years of experience in IT (Project) Management) I have a lot of experience with this 🙂 A lot of companies rightfully desire diversity to be able to offer comprehensive services to a variety of clients. But it is not only about hiring the right people but also to educate the HR staff who often seem to have strategies of their own.

    Unfortunately the HR people can rarely handle this request. Very often the behave a bit like accountants. They ask a dozen or more standard questions and no matter how suitable (or not) the candidate is they will pass the preselection if all the “boxes are checked”. This is contradictory to the management’s requirements. I typically find the leader of a company first and talk to them.

    Have a great start into the coming week.


    • Excellent points Brigitte! There is a role for HR and others to help with the selection process, but leaders have to be engaged throughout the process and not just rush through to find a warm body to fill the next slot.

      Have a great week!


  2. Excellent topic and very timely for me. I am as siting some right now with this issue. You nailed it. Leaders have to own and commit to using the hiring opportunity to strengthen their team! I believe spending time up front to get real clear about what you want and need from this position is critical. Ask yourself 1. “How does this role support the strategy?” 2. “What knowledge, skills and abilities must this person have to be successful?” 3. “What knowledge, skill, or experience gaps do we have on our team that this person could help fill?” 4. “What values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors are required to effectively work and fit into to our culture?”

    • Bob,

      Those are outstanding questions to use a filter to gain clarity on what you need from your next new hire. Thanks for adding your insights!


  3. Loved this post! It is so important to be involved, AND to be diligent about the process. If you care about the outcomes of your team, you should care about the people on that team! Couldn’t agree more with your thoughts, Randy!

  4. Excellent post Randy, I know that not all work situations are the same, but for me, I knew my team the best and knew the environment I wanted to create – so I always wanted to be involved in the interview/hiring process. Yes, it is time consuming – but as you pointed out, the people on my team are my #1 advantage – the returns are worth the investment of my time.

    Best regards,

    • I appreciate your comments, Carl. It does consume a large amount of time and energy, but it’s one of the most important responsibilities of a leader.

      Take care,


  5. I have to agree. In my current situation, I’m the only guy that knows what I need and going out there to find the right “pieces” is very important. Thanks for this Randy

  6. Pingback: The One Responsibility a Leader Can’t Delegate | HENRY KOTULA

  7. Pingback: 10 Awesome Interview Questions to Really Get to Know Job Candidates |

  8. Pingback: Great Leaders Hire Great People » Performance Focused Consulting & Coaching

  9. Pingback: 5 Benefits of Involving Your Team in the Hiring Decision |

Leave a Reply