[pullquote]”With decades of effort and every gray hair on your head invested in your masterpiece, you are the wolf at the door, ready to eat anything that threatens your work!…”[/pullquote]

Many leaders are born with an overwhelming need for control, including myself. This attribute helps a leader accept responsibility for their success and culpability for failure, and it is very helpful in developing teams and driving results in the face of adversity. However, there is a flipside. When this need for control is unchecked, it can be a huge barrier to success and innovation.


When good times turn bad, it is our natural instinct, as leaders, to jump in, take over, and save the day. Additionally, when good times turn great, we jump in the driver’s seat to ensure no wrong turns are taken and the “rookie” or team who created the momentum doesn’t screw it up. This is why they pay us, right? Not necessarily. At times, saving the day is necessary, but often you are doing nothing more than preventing a learning opportunity or hindering next-level success.


Marshall Goldsmith said it well: “What got you here won’t get you there.” There comes a point in your career where you must shift gears from one who controls everything to one who allows learning opportunities and innovation to occur.


You are fortunate if you have found yourself in an organization with a healthy balance sheet and you are not living and dying on every decision. In this environment, simply hire the right people, provide the best training and coaching available, give them appropriate operational boundaries, and allow them to succeed or fail. Most high performers dislike failure more than they like winning; they will learn more than you can possibly teach through their own experience. Preventing this opportunity to fail is a disservice to your team and will undoubtedly lead to a culture of complacency. When your team has the entrepreneurial flexibility to try new things and they are held accountable for their actions, you will see a new level of performance.


Whether your situation is one where every decision directly impacts the bottom line or there is breathing room in your budget, you, as a leader, must allow people to succeed. This seems like a silly statement, right? Though the concept is counterintuitive, many leaders are their own greatest barriers to success. The following situation may sound familiar. You have worked decades to develop systems for optimal production possibilities; you have identified and procured the most efficient tools and best resources for your team on planet earth, and your KPI’s for human capital performance are monitored daily. Your work is a masterpiece; your friends, colleagues, and mentors tell you so. With decades of effort and every gray hair on your head invested in your masterpiece, you are the wolf at the door, ready to eat anything that threatens your work! This is a wonderful place to find yourself. However, a common pitfall for leaders in this position is they will preserve the system at all costs and the wolf eats opportunities for next-level success. When a team or members of the team do something new and find themselves on a new path to success, the leader will jump in and take over, “to ensure success.” Unfortunately, this directly squanders innovation will ensure the team does not break through to a new level, and again, this type of behavior leads to complacency. Ensure your people have the resources they need and let them run with new ideas and allow them to manage new, critical situations. Not only is this environment conducive to innovation, but your culture will attract high performers.


In short, don’t allow your need for control to be a barrier to the success of your team. Build proper systems, hire great people, empower your team, and hold them accountable for failure and success. Sometimes, simple concepts have the most profound effect.



By: Ryan M. Scott, CPC


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