The Leader That Lets Go

With summer coming to
a close I can’t help but think of the phrase, “Lazy Days of Summer.” As a
business owner, summer can be a good time to get away. But as most of you have
probably experienced, getting away doesn’t always mean disconnecting. Each
year I have physically exited the business every July to spend time with my two
girls.  While they are well-rounded and
incredible little people, I often wonder if they have suffered since they seem
to spend more time with sitters than they do with me or my husband.  So to curb this guilt, I allow myself one
month out of the year to be with them. We cherish this sacred time.
For the last few
years, it has been a running joke that July is our company’s best month.  Is it because I bust my butt in June to get
things ready to leave? Or is it because I allow the team the chance to do
things without me?  I am finally able to
see clearly and know that it is the latter! My absence allows the team to
flourish in their strengths. When leaders actually step back and lean on the
team to make things happen, they become observers instead of dominant, active
forces.
Does allowing the
team this freedom require leaders to be physically absent? Or can this dynamic
be fostered year-round?  I think that it
can happen, but not naturally or easily. Taking the observer role means
removing yourself from the equation and empowering the team to do the things
that they do best.  Letting go is
terrifying as a leader and entrepreneur. 
At first it feels as if you are allowing your company to spin out of
control. Much like when you first let go of your child and allow her to ride
the bike without training wheels, you await the big crash. I had anxiety
attacks when I first attempted to let go. I was terrified of failure.
However, the child on
the bike eventually learns to ride, and is able to ride much faster and with
more joy after they get the hang of it. They can do more when they no longer
depend on you to hold them up. Also with companies: over time, your company or
group should grow beyond what you would be able to do on your own when you let
go and allow them to thrive.

 “If your business depends on
you, you don’t own a business, you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the
world because you’re working for a lunatic.” — 
Michael Gerber,   The E Myth

Ask yourself this
question: What would happen to your group or company if you took off for a
month? If the answer is that everything would fall apart, then you have made
yourself too important to the company’s success. Why spend so much time working
in the business, instead of on the business? An exceptional
leader builds a company that can function without them. An exceptional leader
builds the machine, but allows the machine to do the work. An exceptional
leader creates a system in which the employees can thrive, and together, the
employees as a team can accomplish more than the leader can accomplish alone. I
hope you enjoy the final weeks of summer!

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