Leadership: The Art of Letting Go

Parenting can largely be defined as the Art of Letting Go.

So can leading a business.  Knowing when to hold control and when to give it out.  By default we want to keep the control of just about everything (although sometimes we say we want to let go, but when it comes down to it, we don’t).  The more control we have, the more knowledge we have.

When I was hired by Intel years ago the most often asked question was, “Are you OK with ambiguity?”  And I found out why when I started there.  We were given the latitude to do what we needed to do.  The work wasn’t so tightly controlled that we had to run everything before a committee.  We were encouraged to try things out, take some chances and explore a bit.  Everything wasn’t perfect there, but this part they had down pretty well.

The other day a bird fell out of a nest in one of our trees.  It couldn’t fly, but we watched as the mother bird flew near and around it and encouraged it to fly.  At some point the control needed to switch to the baby bird.

An art of leadership is knowing when the new bird should fly and allowing them to fail.

Management, by its very nature, is controlling.  It seeks to manage all put under its care.  Leadership, however, gets out in front, sees the future and allowes those who are being led to stretch their wings.