Stepping into an Open Field
Controlling leaders hold back talent, push down, and under utilize.
Wouldn’t you love to work with a leader who led you into an open field? Wouldn’t it be great if you were one?
Controlling leaders are:
- Talkative, but don’t listen.
- Problem-centric. Controlling leaders focus on weaknesses and faults, while neglecting wins, strengths, and talents.
An open field:
We just asked a new person to develop some videos. We could have laid out all the rules and guidelines. But instead, we told her the goal and let her walk into an open field. She came back with something unexpected and fun.
Liberators go further than control freaks.
12 ways to create open fields:
- Prioritize releasing. Minimize controlling.
- Explain goals and outcomes, not the path forward.
- Understand the strengths and weaknesses of every teammate. Keep people in their strength zone.
- Expect people to bring their best if you give them an open field. Establish incremental goals with short timelines.
- Deal with drifters quickly. Avoid the pitfall of giving too many chances. In the end, too much compassion is painful.
- Release people from your aspirations for them. Embrace their aspirations for themselves. If their aspirations don’t align with your organization, help them move on.
- Keep everyone focused on serving, rather than being served. The more you give the wider life becomes.
- Align people with work that gives them energy.
- Connect with and serve other departments within your organization. Silos narrow the playing field.
- Explore frustrations, don’t minimize them. An open field of opportunity lies on the other side of frustration.
- Provide learning opportunities. Encourage people to try new things.
- Listen to outsiders. Cool stuff feels uncomfortable at first.
How might leaders liberate rather than hold-back?
What are key success factors for leaders who liberate rather than control.
Great leaders paint a picture of the future and help the team get there together.
Thanks Christoph. Maybe we grab a brush and help paint the picture. 🙂
Great post. I especially liked “The more you give the wider life becomes.”
To me, focusing on the most elevated benefit brings life and energy to a vision. The field opens when we trust each other to serve the team, pursuing our most elevated goal.
Thanks for the great post! Mike…
Thanks Mike. I love how you bring the idea of connecting with others to this idea. A wide field can be intimidating. But, a team gives us courage to seize opportunities. I’m not surprised you would add this insight. It’s so you.
Dan, I have worked for leaders who try to control their team members. It makes life miserable.
Thanks Jay. So true. I’ve noticed that when I work for controlling leaders, they want me to be just like them. That’s miserable!
this reminds me a bit of yesterday’s question – that environment needed to morph to one more like this.
Thanks Bill. I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks for making the connection.
the culture ultimately reflects the leadership.
Open fields can be disorienting. When confronted with freedom some folk will go back to what they know while others will explain what they see in terms they understand.
It can be a hard task to liberate people from themselves.
A Devo song comes to mind: “Freedom of choice/Is what you got/Freedom from choice/Is what you want”
So the task for the liberating leader here is to get a sense of what freedom looks like for people and provide just enough so they can find more for themselves.
On the word ‘control’: we like it in airplane pilots, the brakes in our car and in ourselves when it comes to anger or binge eating or going for a run.
When it comes to controlling colleagues, it’s more about misuse of authority. That’s about fear which leads to a downward spiral. And we can all relate to that.
So the task for the liberating leader here is to place before the controlling colleague more than they can control in an effort to help them learn they are controlled by what they seek to control.
Thanks Rohan. I’m glad you brought up some specific challenges for liberating people.
Regarding gradual freedom. A few people can handle being thrown into the deep end of the pool. Your suggestion to open the gate on freedom slowly helps us not overwhelm people.
Your tip on putting a controlling leader in a situation where they are overwhelmed is powerful. It can be difficult for control freaks to learn they don’t have as much control as they think.
Ask questions and then LISTEN to the answers to explore frustrations (#10). Love the points made with #2 and #5. Presenting goals instead of the path forward opens the possibilities. Giving people 2nd chances is different than enabling them by giving them too many chances. It’s a fine line to provide an opportunity to improve or reward undesired behavior. Great post.
I really like the ‘open fields’ metaphor! In conjunction with #6 and #11, I’m a firm believer in stretch goals or, in today’s jargon, ‘20% time.’ That’s the ultimate open field I guess…
I am quite controlling by nature. Knowing that, here is a hope I will be able to control my controlling urges when in professional environment.
This way I get something to control (myself), and be more relaxed when and where necessary.
However, just as @rl_rohan said, some guidelines are still necessary.
I believe aim is to seek healthy balance. Seek to provide guidance, avoid causing suffocation.