Delegation Matrix

… a core concept in Ethics, Rights, and Accountability and Atlas111M

Concept description

The term “delegation matrix” (or “delegation of authority matrix” or “delegated authority matrix”) is used to denote two different devices within the policy realm. The first is an organizational device used by leaders to promote the timely and satisfactory completion of tasks; the second is a legislative instrument which authorizes the delegation of powers.

Organizational device

Leaders frequently must delegate tasks in order to ensure the proper performance of an organization. A delegation matrix is one tool used by leaders to aid in the decision as to which tasks to delegate and which to retain.

The delegation matrix is a 2×2 table measuring passion or enjoyment of a task on the y-axis, and competence on the x-axis.


Priority 1: Delegate First. These are your lowest payoff activities. They are the ones you dread, because you don’t enjoy them and you aren’t good at them. By hanging on to them, you are holding you and your organization back. The sooner you delegate them, the better.

Priority 2: Delegate Next. These activities should be delegated, too. They are not as urgent as Priority 1, because you are at least good at these tasks. However, while others may benefit, you don’t. They drain you and keep you from doing your best work.

Priority 3: Pause and Evaluate. These are the tasks that are tough. You love doing them, but you aren’t particularly good at them. The question is whether or not you could become competent with the right training. Regardless, you should purpose to get good or get out.

Priority 4: Don’t Delegate. These are your highest payoff activities – both for you and your organization. This is where you experience the most satisfaction and make the greatest contribution. You want to do more of these kinds of activities.

Legislative instrument

A delegation matrix is an official government or organizational document that indicates how powers within an organization have been delegated to various decision-makers. Particularly in the case of government, these matrices may be either a summary of the powers delegated by legislation, or an instrument adopted by statute that itself authorizes a delegation of powers. An important aspect of these matrices is an indication of the limits of power delegated to each decision-maker. For example, where the delegated power is a spending power, the financial limits of each decision-maker are often included in a delegation matrix.

Delegation matrices often list to whom the decision-making power is delegated, any reporting or accountability requirements on that decision-maker, the term of the delegation, etc. These matrices trace the accountability of various decisions within an organization from the individual(s) actually rendering those decisions through to the source of that decision-maker’s authority (be it legislation, regulation, organizational policy, etc.).

A variety of organizations use delegation matrices, including universities, governments and militaries.


University of Alberta, Delegation Matrix, at, accessed 12 January 2016.

U.S. Army, Delegation of Authority Matrix, at, accessed 12 January 2016.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Responsibility and Accountability (core topic) in Ethics, Rights, and Accountability and Atlas111M Ethics.

Page created by: Dave Marshall, last modified by Ian Clark on 31 May 2016.

Image: Michael Hyatt, What Tasks Should You Delegate First?,, accessed 12 January 2016.