How can I give up control to create leaders? admin April 16, 2020

How can I give up control to create leaders?

Q: What advice can you give people who hear your story and say “I love this idea of give up control. Tomorrow I’m just going to turn everything over to my team. I’m going to step back, not give any orders.” That’s a bad idea, right?


A: Yeah, that’s not good. So, there’s two things bad about that.

First, it’s probably too big of a jump. You want to do this very, very gradually because you want at every step to understand the cracks. We call it the lateral leadership and it looks like this: Let’s say you’re in a highly top down, “I’ll tell you what to do” environment.

The first step is simply “Tell me more. What do you see?” Observation and description. Then you move to “Well, what do you think?” Judgment and analysis.

The second step is asking for recommendations. “What should we do? What do you recommend?” But you’re still approving it.

Finally, the third step you move to intent where now the bias is shifted. “We’re going to do it unless I say no.” So, we move from permission to veto. But it’s step by step by step by step. It’s very incremental and that’s one of the big mistakes I see.

Secondly, you can only give decision making authority to the extent to which people technically understand their job and understand what you’re trying to do with the organization.

Here’s a story for that: My daughter says, “Gee, I’d really like to stay up to midnight but right now my bedtime is 9:00.” And I say, “Okay. Great. Your bedtime will remain 9:00 until you prove you can stay up ‘till midnight.” “Well, how can I prove I can stay up until midnight but have to go to bed at 9:00?” So, what you want to do is say, “Well, let’s run an experiment. For two weeks, your bedtime is midnight.” But then we’re going to evaluate it. Now, that’s not forever. But we’re going to look at it. We’re going to see how was that for you? How was that for me? What did we learn? And then make some adjustments. Or if you want to go further, you say, “Well, maybe, we’ll just say it’s 10:30 and we’ll do that for two weeks and then we’ll go to midnight.”

The idea is by giving people the authority to make decisions over their lives in small steps, it’s safe for you and it’s safe for them. Importantly, we as leaders need to trust first. We give them the authority first. We say, “Okay. Great. You can decide when your bedtime is. I’m going to trust you have the technical competence and the clarity to do that but it’s going to be in a small way so if there’s a screw up we don’t crash the whole company.”