Leadership Nudge® 368 – The Biggest Impediment to Empowerment

November 3, 2021by Sandy Wilmer

Leaders give control to their team. Instinctively, giving up control is uncomfortable and even scary. But we can practice giving up control in everyday life. Watch David explain.

What additional ways can you practice giving up control?


The biggest impediment to creating an empowered team is our own desire to want to be and feel in control. But us being in control means we’re taking control away from the team. So we’re making the decisions.  

It’s not that we’re evil. We’re just . . . “Hey, it’s what we’re supposed to do. It’s our job as leaders. And it just feels better because I’m making the decision.”  

You can practice this when you can go to a restaurant. When you go to a restaurant, get the server to choose for you. It’s going to require you to articulate what you want in a way which gives the other person as much flexibility in the decision as they can. But still, there’s clear boundaries.  

So for example, if you don’t eat meat, like me, then I have to convey that to the server. That also requires you to create a connection with a person in order to make it safe for them to make this decision for you, which again, is a key skill that you’re going to have at work.  

COVID has given us all a great opportunity to practice living without control. I fly on airplanes and I know, just from experience (and also from reading the news reports), that the incident of this sort of “airplane rage” is up. On almost every flight we seem to have an angry passenger. So people are struggling with this. But rather than letting it be a struggle and have some dysfunctional response, use it as an actual way to practice living in a world where you have less control. And build that, that muscle.  

If you want to do that and take it to the next level, introduce some randomness in your life. So you might say, here’s six movies we could watch, I’ll roll a die and the random chance of the die will choose the movie that I’m going to watch tonight. And when you start doing things like this, I think you’ll find that you can train your muscles so that living in that world where you’re not controlling everything just isn’t as scary as your brain is trying to tell you that it is.  

I’m David Marquet that’s your leadership nudge coming from a fireside chat in Killarney, Ireland. Cheers. 

Sandy Wilmer

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Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311

Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311

Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311