4 Reasons Leaders Struggle to Let Go of Doing It All
In the classic book E-Myth, Michael Gerber coined “Work on it, not just in it.”
He observed that founders who started with a passion for producing products struggled to let go of delivering the result. He referred to them as Technicians rather than Entrepreneurs.
As leaders, the light bulb moment comes when you realize you no longer need to be the best at everything to get results. You don’t need to have every answer or be tied to every decision.
Once you shift from creating the result to understanding what others need to improve their development, you help your entire team rise.
Here are four reasons leaders struggle to let go of doing it all.
1. They can’t help themselves.“I am just so passionate.” “My clients won’t work with anyone else.” “I can’t ask anyone else to do it because they are so busy.” The stories we tell ourselves limit our growth and rob others of the critical role they play in delivering the result.
2. Leaders are caught in the decision trap. If your team cannot take a step forward without your input, the issue at the heart of it all is trust. That trust starts with you.
As a senior leader, I consistently had one or two team members who would bring “problems, not solutions.” I tried to teach them how to present a business case, run decision-making scenarios, and “trust themselves,” but nothing seemed to work. Looking back, I realize that trust is a two-way street. If I had taken the time to understand where their fears were coming from, I would have discovered what was going on. I missed an opportunity to make a difference in their growth and mine.
3. The time myth.I don’t have time to leave the business long enough to create significant changes. I’m SO busy.We all know that when essential opportunities arise, we make the time.
The time issue is a conviction issue in disguise. Have you ever done the same thing repeatedly, and as you are doing it, you think there has to be a better way? The next thing you know, you are doing it all over again.
We need conviction to stop doing it the hard way
because it would take time to make it permanently easier.
4. Fear of failure. The best leaders understand the vital role of learning from our mistakes - regardless of who makes them.
In the same way, it takes serious parenting chops to let your child go out of the house in cold weather without a jacket when they refuse to put one on. A strong leader allows their team to try things, even though "you know" that it will never work.
I had a fantastic boss whose response to my rather outlandish ideas was never no. It was always, "Try it, see what happens. If you don't try, you will never really know."
Shifting from doing to leading is the only way to let the journey's wisdom take its course.
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