How much is too much?

Bryson is the External Relations Vice President on Associated Students Inc. The job is intense, and at times overwhelming. Bryson represents ASI to off-campus students, the local community, and state officials and legislators. Bryson has a student staff that assists him, but the duties assigned to his position are still extensive.

This past term, community anger about student behavior and the off-campus party scene has kept Bryson very, very busy. The university is surrounded by a residential area, and angry neighbors have been consistently featured in the news. Bryson is disappointed that the reputation of the whole university community is tarnished by the behavior of a small portion of students, and he throws himself into improving relations with the local community. The administration emphasizes neighborhood relations, and places a lot of pressure on Bryson to do the same. He works with the police, produces newsletters for neighbors to share student successes, and organizes programs to encourage community between students and neighbors.

Bryson realizes that as his focus has shifted to improving neighborhood relations, he has delegated more and more responsibility to his three student staff. Bryson has been so focused on working with the local community and off-campus students, that he has delegated the responsibility of state-level discourse almost entirely to his assistants. His state level duties include advocating for student financial aid and government funding, which are vital to the student body and present a constant area of concern. The state-level fight for funding is crucial, but constant and Bryson feels that he cannot make the same kind of impact that he is able to in neighborhood relations.

While Bryson feels that delegation is an important part of leadership, his staff members also have duties of their own. All three of his staff member have seemed harried lately, and Bryson worries that he has over-filled their plates. He also wonders if he has delegated too many of the responsibilities outlined in his own position description. If Bryson is only executing some of the responsibilities in his position, is he really doing his job? He doesn’t have the time or energy to continue to do so much community relations work and take back the rest of the tasks he has delegated. He’ll have to sacrifice one or the other, but he can’t decide what is the right decision.

What would you do in Bryson’s situation? Would you continue to dedicate time to very effectively address one part of your position, at the expense of others? How do you strike a balance between delegation and personal responsibility? What tasks can you ask staff to take, and where do you draw the line?

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