How “Letting Go” Might be the Answer
I recently saw this image and it felt so powerful given the state of many organizations. Leaders are struggling with retention, morale, and insight as to how to best support their team. We all have the natural tendency to double down, dig in our heels and tightly monitor encounters as tensions rise. What about a different approach? Let go. If you have hired great people who are positioned well, then I would challenge you to trust your team to do the work only they can do. Your job is to step back, promote the vision, and strategize at a high level. Your job is not to control but to guide and support.
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” Bruce Lee
What gets in our way of letting go?
The Stickler (positive intelligence) - the voice in your head that says “I can do it best, if it is not done my way then it will be wrong, everything has to be perfect…” It is this thinking that diminishes the strengths of others, does not allow collaboration, and does not permit you to work at the top of your profession. Yes, allowing others to take control will not ensure it will always be done as you imagined but most likely it will still be good, just different, and conversely, will free up time and energy to do only what YOU can do.
When uncertainty is prevalent, control is what we seek to feel safe. Vulnerability is fear-provoking. We would rather micro-manage than allow others to see our struggles.
Ego- our fallback story is that the success or failure of the organization rests solely on us. When stress mounts, our tendency is to retreat within. We hold our cards tightly since we believe all eyes are on us and failure will reflect our worth.
What happens if you let go?
Of course, you risk failure, but that risk is inevitable. If you allow your team to step up and assume accountability your failure rate vastly diminishes.
You step into leadership and assume a supportive role as opposed to “doing” the work. Ben Brearley said it well: It’s like trying to grab water – you can’t do it. The more you try, the more it spills. However, you can guide water, by adjusting the channel through which it should flow. This is the same way we need to be guiding our teams.
Individual team members will rise if given the opportunity. It is amazing what happens when you recognize talent and empower them to do their best. When teams assume accountability it naturally creates pride and higher performance.
Through my years of coaching, I have noticed one consistency. People do not typically offer more of themselves or communicate openly unless they are given permission to do so. The leader must open the door and invite them to participate. This certainly surprised me but has been a consistent finding regardless if they are a C suite or a manager. People “stay in their lane” until they are given an opportunity to do otherwise.
You are the person to shift the dynamic. Give permission, loosen the reigns, and inspire greatness.