Sometimes the smartest decision a leader can make is to delegate that decision to someone else, says a recent Kellogg Insight.

But before choosing whether a decision can be delegated, the leader must first assess the riskiness of that decision. Ideally, the article says, the CEO and board of directors should save their focus for only the highest-risk decisions, such as making an acquisition that doubles the company’s size. Mid- and lower-risk decisions—staffing and product launches, for example—should be handled further down the corporate ladder.

Whether senior leadership refuses to let go or those below are unwilling to be held accountable, letting decisions escalate too high up the chain of command can cause a number of problems, according to the Kellogg Insight.

  • Decisions take much longer when they need to climb up through the org chart or end up deferred until senior executives have time for a briefing.
  • Decisions that are escalated tend to be more error-prone, as the people making the decision are further away from the data required to make the call.
  • Failure to delegate can cause executives to lose their focus on core business risks.
  • Mid- and lower-level employees may not feel empowered to take the risks necessary for innovation.

For more information, see the full Kellogg Insight: “When Should Leaders Own a Decision and When Should They Delegate?