10 Ways to Disengage in an Engaging Way
Leadership roles are frequently redefined in growing organizations. Leaders grow with growing organizations or both stagnate and die.
Growing organizations require leaders to become novices again and again.
Stepping back and letting go:
Leaders of growing organizations are always learning and relearning to step back so others can step forward. Growth is a process of letting go so others can take hold.
Stepping back is far more than delegating. It’s developing a spirit of ownership.
Stepping back isn’t disconnecting or dumping on others. “You do it!”
Leaders who have been fully involved seem to struggle with partial involvement. It’s all or nothing.
10 ways to disengage in an engaging way:
The challenge of letting go is giving people the feeling that you still care. You aren’t just dumping on them.
Don’t blurt out, “You do it,” when someone asks for direction.
- Affirm the person and the question. “Thanks for….”
- Ask them about issues/opportunities/challenges they see? “What are some of our challenges…?”
- Offer a little insight, but not much. “Another issue might be….”
- Set direction. “We definitely need to address…. Does that make sense?”
- Now ask, “What do you think we should do?” (You’ve been engaged, but not controlling.)
- Lean in.
- Ask, “What’s the next step?”
- Affirm. “That makes sense. Go for it.”
- Do you need anything from me?
- Let me know how it goes.
At the beginning, letting go is slow. Eventually, you become less essential.
A way of seeing:
Growing organizations require leaders to see themselves in new ways. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal transformation.
One sticking point along the way is your need and the expectation of others for you to give answers. Comfort yourself with the idea that the person who gives the answer owns the issue.
How might leaders learn to let go in ways that energize others, rather than making them feel dumped on?
Dan my first Mentor, George who was the long time CFO, every once in a while used to say “what decision would you make if I was not here anymore”. I would really think about it and usually he was fine with my recommendation. George was a great person and a great leader.
Brad James, The Business Zoo
I always enjoy and get something from your comments. Just thought this time I would let you know that I look forward to reading when I see your photo in the comment section 🙂
Katie thanks! You made my day, Brad
Great close — “the person who gives the answer owns the issue.” If we only delegate activity, we still own the issue. In order to truly delegate responsibility and allow our people to grow, we must create a deliberate transfer of ownership.
I am new at being in a leadership position and it’s quite a shift. I’ve always been the go-to person to get things done, but I don’t yet know when and what to delegate to others. It’s a strange place to be. I’m not quite sure when to roll up my sleeves and jump in or step back and watch the work play out and still keeping tabs on the progress. It feels like I’m cheating somehow to delegate work to others. Lots to learn. Thanks for your blog!!
Dan, how timely. I now being a new novice with the passing of my father will have to take on a new roll. I have been practicing letting go over the past year. passing the torch and taking new jobs on within our family business. Now the big torch has been passed to me. I guess we all knew it would happen. Funny this is the exact thing I have tried to discuss with my dad before his passing. I have also put on talks with our scouting community about “finding your replacement” I will definitely share this with them and others in our business. one of the big reasons we cant move on is not letting go of the leadership we have and allowing others to take on those new rolls.
Great read. It also applies to other facets of my life. I have not been in school in decades and decided to jump in with both feet. The problem I was having was letting go of my old habits and ways of what I believed research to be. I had to become a learner and re-learner of advances in technology. I am from the Encyclopedia Britannica era and not so used to APA format and whatnot. So I decided to step back and re-learn the technique of research. I am grateful that these readings are a part of my assignments. They have given me insight who and where I am as a leader. Thanks Dr. Linda Matthews. You are truly a gem for introducing me to this blog.
You know Dan I have always believed that before a person gets a promotion, at the very least they should have an underling properly trained to take his place. For an experienced, self-confident leader this posses no problem whatsoever. However, weak leaders on the other hand can have a great deal of trouble with this. Especially if they perceive that the individual in question posses a threat to the very position they currently hold.
To the current sitting leader, if your beginning to feel ‘stagnant’, if you are ready for a change
REMEMBER THIS; “If you want to re-invent yourself, if you are ready for a change don’t forget the following quote from Lolly Daskal; “If you really want to change your life, but do nothing to change, nothing will change.”
Short one today my friend I’m ready to put afternoon yard lines on the walk.
Cheers my friend!
How might leaders learn to let go in ways that energize others, rather than making them feel dumped on? Letting the individuals know you believe in them, that they too can get the job done, we still need to challenge them! We have to build up their comfort levels before we throw them to the wolves! Steps take time, yet sometimes there is no time, just now, your the leader! We stumble and fall, get back up and eventually we get the job done, overtime we either succeed or give up, “you have a choice”! I prefer to never give up, life’s challenges can be fruitful and quite amazing if you let it develop..
That is excellent. Not to mention the indispencable knowledge, insight, experience, (call it what you may) that you could only gain due to the experience. However it took 50 some years recognize great ideas, new concepts, and solutions to old problems are realized.
Like you, I do not like to lose. If I’m in ‘The-Game’, I’m in it to win. BTW, I always take a peek at your replies. There very relevant.
Thank you Sgt. I look forward to your contributions as well, I appreciate the kind words. Dan is truly my mentor whom I am ever so thankful to have met, he has opened me up to share with others the trials and tribulations of life. I respect all viewpoints of others and cherish the opportunity to be part!
Thank you Dan, this is great advice for leaders both new and experienced. I agree with everything other than #8. People usually come with the right answer, they just lack the confidence to pull the trigger and instead go to the leader to affirm the choice they would already make. I have found that in the simple act of affirming the leader, in most cases, takes the issue back.
In good people, their idea is okay only now after the leader validated….not growth/not good.
In bad people, the responsibility can be shifted because “Hey, if it fails, [Insert leader name] said it was a good idea.”
I find the best responses are:
1) The great question suggested by Brad James
2) “I trust you, you know what you are doing.”