Effective leadership is not about shouldering the responsibilities and doing the work. It also requires that you build trust while developing and empowering your team. In today’s fast-paced business environment, it is crucial for leaders to understand the importance of relinquishing control, delegating the work, and embracing a more strategic approach.
Relinquishing control of the work as a leader is imperative for fostering growth and creating a dynamic work environment. I have worked with many leaders who get stuck in the same trap: they keep flexing and leveraging their “super-doer, work-harder” skills and then wonder why they are burning out, key initiatives are not completed, and their people are either stagnating or leaving. By holding on to tasks and failing to delegate effectively, leaders inadvertently stifle innovation, hinder their own and their team’s potential, and limit their ability to focus on strategic priorities.
Thru my coaching with clients ranging from new leaders to CEOs, I typically find three forces working against a leader trying to let go of the work:
1. Fear that the team will mess it up. This is a legitimate concern when the leader has not properly mentored, coached, and developed the team. I find that assessing and developing team skills is often the critical first step to successfully letting go as a leader. Do you have the right people on your bus? Are they in the right seats?
2. Letting go of work means shifting your own identity and value proposition. Do you want to be known as the expert that works harder than anyone or as the leader who sets out an inspiring vision and builds great teams? Which one of these approaches does your company and team most need from you? How often are you focused on “how” things get done versus “what” needs to get done and “why”?
3. Letting go means learning new skills and behaviors. Changing behaviors push us out of our comfort zones which often increases disorientation and frustration. This is genuinely hard work for anyone – and especially for a busy leader already tapped out with deadlines and changing priorities. This is exactly the space where an executive coach can help.
All this reminds me of some advice I received as a young, hard-charging Naval Officer: Good leaders decide, delegate, and disappear. Then again, not sure the “disappear” guidance is always a good idea. In any case, it’s been proven that letting go of the work is not a sign of weakness, it’s most often an indication of the leader’s effectiveness and confidence in the team. Please reach out if you could use some help embracing the power of letting go and unlocking your full potential as a leader.