The Leadership of Letting Go, Part 3

The key to leadership is to recognize over what I have control, and not. Basically, I have control over myself, my thoughts, feeling and abilities. Over most everything else in life, I am powerless. Anything else is just an illusion. Let it sink in for a moment. The first time a mentor said this to me, I panicked!

Once the panic passes, a natural question to pose is: if I am not in charge, who or what is? The answer to this question is not simple; however, it points to a very useful principle in leadership – trust. The question could just as easily be formulated as, in what or whom do I trust?

If trust is so important, can it be developed, or is it innate? My experience suggests that it can be developed. For a variety of reasons I won’t go into now, I had developed a basic principle in life that people had to earn my trust. My default position was mistrust. Now, it is almost impossible to earn the trust of someone who’s default is mistrust. I couldn’t trust people to work to my standards; in my first management position, this resulted in lots of work and control issues for me, and a pretty easy ride for everyone else (I was doing the stuff I really should have delegated!). I took a long hard look at this and reluctantly admit, I was no longer able to trust myself to deliver the work to my standards. That’s when I decided to give people an advance payment of trust and see what would happen. I was not disappointed: given the chance, they began to reach the standards I set. My workload dropped, so that I could supervise them, help them to develop, and take care of my own duties.

What has helped you to develop trust? How does this impact your leadership?

Photo: Paul Kline / iStockphoto

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