Leadership is Giving Up Control

Posted by steve | Management & Leadership | Monday 30 September 2013 1:24 pm

I realize that posting on a personal blog with an opinion about management always includes with it the risk that the management team you work with in the real world may read it. And they may get the wrong idea. So let me just get this out-of-the-way first. The management team I work with, regardless of the fact that they may read this or not, is outstanding and teaches and instructs good values of leadership. No kidding. In fact, who’s kidding who? That’s why I choose to work for them.

This leads me to the reason for this post. It occurs to me that an outstanding manager will delegate responsibility to employees as far as possible. Let me explain what I mean by that. Encouraging the employees to take responsibility, make decisions, and overall demonstrate responsibility is a great thing. And the right thing to do is to mentor the employees to be better at handling and understanding those responsibilities. A great manager finds ways to make other great managers. A poor manager tries to keep everything under control tightly. Fear vs trust.

With the right kind of shepherding as an example of leadership, the employee will know precisely what to do. And the discipline must also exist to recognize where our own responsibility as management lies as we deal with delegating to others. If they make a mistake, it’s not our place to give them a lot of crap about it. Rather to recognize if our own instruction was inadequate or if it just couldn’t be helped with the existing knowledge. A team I once worked with had a saying that “the person working against you may just not have enough information.”

I’m quite fortunate to work as part of the management team that expects that kind of responsibility from all of us. And we get feedback if we need help. Rather than try to control what everyone does — and you know you’ve met those managers before — they mentor you and give you the authority to do what is needed. It is a marvel to experience if you’ve never been expected to act like a stake-holder before.

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