Learning To Let Go

In my work as a coach for business owners and entrepreneurs I frequently come across the issue of learning to let go. The leaders I work with usually have built up their business from scratch (or inherited a family business which they have grown). By nature, they are entrepreneurial and restless; they want to get onto the next big thing, nurture their next idea. However, their income comes from their original business and they fear that if they start to step away, it will fade and potentially die. So, learning to let go is often a key theme in our coaching sessions.When tackling this issue, I always start with the question: “What’s your vision for your existing business?”. Often my clients can articulate this well, they have a clear picture of what they want to achieve, how long that will take and what steps are needed to get there. That’s great –we can move straight to question 2. However if their vision isn’t fully clear then getting it defined is where we start. Getting clarity about the end goal for your business means that you can make sure you are heading the right way, keep on track and most importantly you will know when you get there. Setting a vision is a whole other topic so we’ll deal with that in a separate article.Back to the point- letting go. Question 2 – “Who else knows about your vision and can see it and feel it as clearly and strongly as you?”The “right” answer to this is “the whole team” however the more frequent answer I get is “well…. I think they know what we’re aiming for…. or “my manager knows – I told him/her when I recruited them….” And herein lies the problem. The client does not feel he can trust his team to do the do without him. He knows that they don’t quite get it in the same way that he does. He thinks he has told them what to do (he probably has) but they aren’t fully engaged in it and therefore can’t stand in his shoes and deliver to the same standards. This isn’t about capability – the team (hopefully) were recruited because they were skilled people, capable of doing the job advertised. This is about winning hearts and minds and taking the team on the journey with you. We have all heard the story of the janitor at NASA who, when asked by John F Kennedy what he was doing, replied: “I am helping to put a man on the moon”. To most outsiders he was just a cleaner, but he understood how his role contributed to the bigger picture and therefore he did the best job he possibly could because he was completely bought into the vision.Communicating your visions for your business with all those who work there and with other key stakeholders in the venture is essential if you are ever going to be able to let go and focus on something new. Once that box is ticked the rest becomes quite straight forward. You need to know that to create a trusted workforce you need to be trustworthy yourself. In other words, if your people learn to trust you they in turn will strive to not let you down. Trust is a mutual thing and it takes hard work. It is based on 4 core elements; Integrity, Intent, Capability and Results. Part of building trust is understanding and communicating what you want from your team and what you can offer them. In other words clarity of vision. You need to demonstrate that you are capable- that you do your job to the highest standard- nobody will trust a leader who they think isn’t up to the job!The foundation of trust is your personal credibility, and it can be a real differentiator for any leader. A person’s reputation is a direct reflection of their credibility, and it precedes them in any interactions or negotiations they might have. When a leader’s credibility and reputation are high, it enables them to establish trust fast. Then add to your credibility the kind of behaviour that builds trust. These thirteen behaviours are key to your success:

  1. Say things how they are
  2. Demonstrate respect
  3. Create transparency
  4. Right wrongs
  5. Show loyalty
  6. Deliver results
  7. Keep improving
  8. Confront reality
  9. Clarify expectation
  10. Practice accountability
  11. Listen first, talk second
  12. Keep your promises
  13. Trust others

Finally , take it beyond just you as the leader and extend it to your entire business. This step by step approach may not be a quick win but it will get you to the place where you can step away from your business and know you are leaving it in safe hands who will nurture and care for it so it can grow and flourish whilst you get on with building your empire or saving the world. If you need help in letting go, creating or sharing your vision, and building a culture of trust in your business then get in touch.

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