As a leader I am consistently challenged with letting others lead. I really see myself as a servant leader where my job is to set the vision, guide, mentor, and remove obstacles out of the way of those I serve. That all sounds good in theory and it rolls pretty easily off my tongue, but the reality is I struggle with not taking back the reins. There is a fine line between guiding someone and prescribing the process for someone.
Over the past 4 months I have been developing my vision for how I wanted a portion of our department to function. Over the last 3 months I have been slowly socializing that vision with my direct reports. Last month it became time to release the ownership of carrying out that vision to those responsible. It was time to get out of the how and let those I trust determine the best way to accomplish this vision. I often say this and firmly believe it “I like to hire people smarter than myself and empower them to do their job”. As a leader I cannot make such a bold statement and then micromanage. So, as I watched the “how” being carried out to reach our shared vision I found myself in a couple of spaces. 1) I felt a bit excluded from the decisions being made (again this was the how and I really did not need to be included) and 2) when I was included I found myself thinking “I wish we would have handled that a bit different”.
For me this is where the trust factor comes in, this is where the relationships I have built with my direct reports become even more critical. I have to step back and acknowledge that I do not have all the answers and that there is more than one way to arrive at a destination. Jack Welch was quoted as saying, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” I have to allow others to make decisions, carry those out, adjust, regroup, fail and ultimately feel success if I want them to grow. The truth is that this helps me grow too. When I step aside and support those I have hired, I grow. I learn from them and I become a better leader. So, the lesson for me today is continue to believe in those I lead, serve them and remember that people are what matter most.