The Art Of Letting Others Shine

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Working with Monica* is a blast. She is fun, warm, and engaging, and works more than anyone, without ever seeming to tire. When she does take vacations, she is scuba diving in Roatan, or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Yet the flip side of her exciting, overflowing temperament is that at work, Monica wants control of everything. She goes to all the meetings, and nothing can happen unless it is run past her for approval.

The chaos can get intense. Monica can’t do it all on time, so she is always behind—she runs late to meetings, and takes a long time to get back to people on decisions that need to be made right now.

Monica has strong leadership potential—she’s dynamic and draws people to her, and she gets a lot done in a day. But one of her challenges is to find a way to step back more often, and let others shine.

My first goal when coaching someone with this style is to help them slow down and reflect between tasks, rather than jumping from one job to the next. One of the hardest things to do for someone with Monica’s style is to put on the brakes and delegate, letting others do some of the work, rather than trying to have a hand in everything.

Why is it so hard for a doer like Monica to slow down and delegate? Part of it is certainly a fear that things will fall apart. But another part of it is that a doer values his or herself for what she is accomplishing. It’s a part of their identity. Handing off jobs to others feels like being a bad leader.

But an effective leader is not only a doer, but one who helps others accomplish and achieve. If a leader has a well-chosen team, they will be able to safely step back and delegate more. Learn to measure your leadership strength by how happy people are and what kinds of results they are getting, and gain pride in being the kind of leader who helps others to shine.

(*Monica is a fictional composite, not a real client!)

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