Leadership Means Losing Control

Pass The Ball

No, I don’t mean freak out.

When you’re building a business or a team, or anything, success means growth. Growth means more to manage. And that means you have to lose control. Or rather, give it up. Delegate. Pass it to others.

Leaders that don’t, hit a wall. Growth stops. Moving forward stops. And a lot of times, dissension wells up and sparks a downhill slide in everybody else’s ability to even care about what’s happening.

Control Is An Illusion

Give it up. If it comes back to you, it was always yours in the first place. You’ve probably heard this before in reference to the things that we love. It also applies to leadership, because if we care so much, if everything has to be exactly perfect, we run the risk of losing it by trying too hard to hang on to it.

As a leader, if you’ve got too much on your plate, it’s hard to stand back and look at the big picture. And at the top of the leadership hierarchy, this can hurt a business faster than anything. It means there is no vision. No comprehensive strategy. More importantly, it means no one is making sure there is.

The details are important, but how they all fit into the larger puzzle is just as important. As a leader, the big picture is your job. The details are someone else’s.

How To Lose Control

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. One step at a time. If you hand over everything all at once, a lot of things will go wrong. Delegate you details one step at a time. Make sure the right tasks go to the right people. You’re not just offloading work, you’re building a hierarchy, a team, and a whole process of growing and getting more done.
  2. Things will go wrong. It’s going to happen. It HAS to happen. It’s just part of your and everyone else’s learning process. A lot of times you’ll know what is gonna go wrong. And you’ll be there when someone drops the ball to make sure it doesn’t roll down the hill. Your team learns. And they’ll have more respect for your knowledge and experience. And your leadership.
  3. Let your people own it. I’ve seen many people micro-managed to the point where they just don’t care to turn on their brains when they show up to work. It’s a self-defeating cycle. The more you micromanage people, the more you have to. Give people direction. They’ll find their own way and take a lot more pride in their work. When you figure it out yourself, when you have to make it happen and you do, you get a huge sense of accomplishment and confidence.
  4. Balance being removed and involved. Keep in mind, that handing over the keys doesn’t mean you leave your team to fend for themselves and completely ditch out. Every once in a while you have to stand in front of your army and lead the charge.

I hope some of these tips can help your business and your other endevours. I went through this process myself a few years ago. I had far too much on my plate and I wasn’t sure that everyone else could step up and each take a piece of all the things I was doing.

They could. And they did.

6 thoughts on “Leadership Means Losing Control”

  1. I’ve been in this situation before. When you’ve fought your way to where you are, it’s extremely hard to put some of that control in the hands of someone else. It’s necessary, but still difficult.

  2. I agree with Anthony, it is indeed, hard. When you build something you’re proud of, that works, and you “lead” a team, it’s not easy to let others take control and delegate, things will go wrong, like you said it has to happen. I’ve been in this kinda situation more than once, and it’s soo true, the way you put it : “they don’t care to turn on their brains when they show up to work”. catch a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach the man how to fish and he’ll have food for life.

  3. Anthony,

    It’s really difficult. And like you say “When you’ve fought your way to where you are…”, that sometimes makes it that much more difficult.


    I think the easiest way to know you have to give up control to maintain it is too see what happens when a leader doesn’t. The wheels just spin. I’m sure you’ve seen it a few times.

    Those what-not-to-do lessons helped me immensely when I had to make the decision to give it up.

  4. Delegating leadership roles to someone else is hard, but you have to learn to trust others 😀 They may not do it exactly how you want something done, but that’s why you have to be selective and know that the person you’re choosing will be the right one for the job.

  5. Absolutely Gregg,

    No matter what you do there is no substitute for having great people on board. It makes giving up control infinitely easier.

  6. It’s the hardest thing to give up control especially when the stakes are high but sticking your nose in everyone’s face is a sure-fire recipe for failure.

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