Enabling and encouraging the success of others is a trait that all great leaders share. We need to step back out of the shadow of our own ego, and allow others to take responsibility, learn and make mistakes, if we ultimately want them to shine.
Watching my 4 year old son build lego is a bittersweet blend of sheer joy and sheer torture.
Watching his face light up in the revelation that he is building something as he fits the tiny pieces together brings me amazing joy.
Watching his not too nimble fingers work so hard to get the tiny pieces to fit together is complete torture.
So many times I’ve stepped in with a gentle “Can mummy help?” to be greeted with an emphatic “No! I can do it!”
This is all too often followed by tears of frustration (and a thousand scattered lego pieces) when he realises he can’t actually do it all on his own – yet.
All I want is to prevent those hot, passion-filled tears from gracing his beautifully focused and determined 4 year old face.
For many of us, letting go of our natural desire to control every outcome (and often, protect others, and commonly ourselves, in the process) can be very challenging.
Yet the ability to lead and manage others effectively is seriously compromised by an unwillingness to step back and allow those close to you to take responsibility, make their own mistakes and grow personally and professionally.
Stepping back is also crucial for your own personal and professional development.
Start with increasing your own level of awareness. Are you guilty of over-managing? Do you often find yourself saying “It’ll be quicker if I do it myself?” or “Nobody ever does it as well as I do?”.
Stepping back will help prevent stress and burn-out in you, and in your team. And teaching, encouraging and empowering others is far more rewarding than trying to be and do everything for everyone else.
Sheryl Sandberg is right in saying we need to lean in to achieve the career and life success we want. And to lean in fully, we also need to learn to step back and stop trying to control every tiny aspect of our work, and instead empower others around us to contribute fully and take responsibility for their own success. tweet this
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