There are two things that every leader has to learn how to do to remain successful. Today, a leader that uses the “Command and Control” practice quickly learns that those being lead are most compliant when he or she is in the room. Those being lead may be saying “Okay” to you but may be wondering why things had to be done that way. In our culture today we value things that happen instantly and auto-magically! “Start this program.” “Stop this service.” “Start this new schedule.”
I am not opposed to finding quick fixes to challenges within an organization, of course, they can be very positive and effective. An example might be a particular group within an organization that is having a difficult time scheduling an event because there are so many conflicting events and their group is smaller than others and therefore has less influence. This is a perfect time for the senior leader to step in and balance the competing interests within the organization. But on a day-to-day basis, the senior leader will need to work out another way to deal with pressing leadership issues if he hopes the organization will continue to grow strong. To accomplish this, here are two things leaders should learn how to do:
1. Letting go
Leaders have to empower those under them to make key decisions on their own. This changes the senior leader’s role to one of Guidance versus Control. For some leaders, this is incredibly difficult because they fear their people will make critical mistakes that might damage their organization. Tragically, leaders who think this way often have some of the strongest leaders working for them who are more than prepared to take on these challenges. On the line is the senior leader’s credibility, which is something that can only be earned from those being led. The very best leaders are strong enough to allow those working for them to make their own decisions and to fail if that’s what it takes to learn how to do it better the next time. Ironically, often the senior leader has made as many or more mistakes and learned from them before they became the senior leader. That’s how they gained the experience to lead in the first place, so why is it so difficult for a leader to let go? Once this is learned the leader can influence many more of his team by providing his trust to those being led.
2. Facilitating others
Truly strong leaders know that those working for them crave a clear and consistent set of performance criteria to input into all of their programs. Leaders who have learned these performance principles create both sustainability and scalability for their organizations. So often organizations hit a wall they can’t seem to scale because they are so close to their situation. An objective look at the problem often uncovers a fuzzy understanding of what the true organizational goals are and lack a clear set of steps for accomplishing them.
As anyone in leadership can attest, developing strong leadership skills is a difficult and lengthy process, made complex by the fact that solutions are often counter-intuitive that challenge the status quo. Letting go versus being in control is a terrific example of one such lesson. But if you think about it, if you’re a senior leader what you want most are results that make a difference. So ask yourself, which is more rewarding– helping others accomplish your goals or doing it yourself? The strongest leaders have learned that facilitating produces substantially better results than a solo effort.