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Leaders Need to Know When to Relinquish Control

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One of the main purposes of this blog is to demonstrate the harms of excessive control in all areas of our lives, the benefits of letting go of control and how to do it.   In that regard, my posts (and book) examine the many facets of the control dynamic in such important areas as parenting, intimate relations, creative endeavors, and  sports and performance.

One control area that is not often examined is that of leaders, such as politicians, heads of companies, presidents of institutions, managers and the like.

Ron Roberts has written an excellent article on leadership control, How to Gain Control by Letting Go, in which he identifies the paradox between a leader’s need to control by the very nature of his or her position, and knowing when to relinquish control.   Mr. Roberts makes the important distinction between control as an underlying managerial principle and true leadership:

“Control …is associated with planning, organizing, and directing.   It revolves around setting standards, measuring actual performance, and taking corrective action….Leadership, on the other hand, is based on setting clear objectives, delegating authority, relinquishing control, and trusting staff.  Leaders know when to exercise control and when to relinquish it.”(emphasis added)

Benefits of Relinquishing Leadership Control

As Mr. Roberts correctly notes, letting go of leadership control encourages subordinates and colleagues to thrive because it empowers them to show initiative and they feel valued.

There are major benefits for leaders as well.

*By letting go of control, they are able to step back and see the bigger picture, or as is often said, the forest from the trees.    This is a huge advantage for strategic planning, as well as being able to earlier detect and assess vital trends (and make advantageous adjustments) in their particular business, industry, or realm.

*They can more fully use their unique skills and talents because they are no longer burdened or overwhelmed by the intensity and restrictions of their controlling actions.

*They have less stress and anxiety—and more energy–because they need not plot, analyze,  and obsess so much.    Through positive results from relinquishing control, they have greater trust that things will work out—maybe not as originally envisioned, but often much better.

I would be interested in knowing your experiences and results with giving up leadership or managerial control.

In the meantime, remember to

Let It Go!

Danny

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