“Are you finished with that project Thomas”?
5 minutes later…“I’m just checking in to make sure you’re doing the job right.”
“How’s it coming with the report”?
“Don’t forget you have other things to work on”…
There’s been an abundant amount of times in my career where I’ve been constantly shadowed by my superiors. Maybe the same occurrence has happened to you.
Or maybe you are that person who has to be everywhere at once. Looking over a subordinates shoulder and breathing down their neck to make sure the job is done correctly.
While abandoning your own responsibilities. Do you really know where you’re going if you constantly stare in the rearview?
My examples represent what managerial types like to call a “finger on the pulse method.” This so called type of leadership doesn’t represent an organic trust in place.
It is in-fact quite the opposite.
History tells us different tales of how the most effective leaders who didn’t micromanage their subordinates. Whether in the most pressurized circumstances or between life and death. In fact, they did the opposite.
A surrendering method in place to make sure all the right pieces were aligned to outperform their own expectations.
Because that’s exactly what leaders with responsibility do. They let effort, direction, and strategy play themselves out. Not the latter.
For instance, the 11 time NBA coaching champion Phil Jackson couldn’t do everything himself. That’s impossible. He led players such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant through a crusade of dynasties which he did not micromanage their every move on the court.
If he put restrictions on their capabilities, certainly the players would have rebelled and championships would not have been won or history been made.
Instead Phil Jackson emphasized, “Leadership is not about forcing your will on others. It’s about mastering the art of letting go.” It coincides to surrendering and letting efficient and powerful systems of people execute on their own will.
That is not to say everyone can establish their own identity based on their own freewill or driven ego. It goes far deeper than that.
According to Phil Jackson’s philosophy on winning a championship, “it’s a delicate balancing act, there’s only so much you can accomplish by exerting your will. As a leader your job is to do everything in your power to create the perfect conditions for success by benching your ego and inspiring your team to play the game the right way.”
He then added, “The soul of success is surrendering to what is.”
You could be in your own way of success of leading a team through outdated tactics. History has never been kind to those who have tried to repeat formulas or exerting your own personal will on people.
Because as soon as an someone begins to feel resentment towards a leading method of being overwhelmingly shadowed or constricted, you’ve shot down their potential.
Let’s take one of the most innovative companies in the world, Nike. They never fell into the world of micromanagement. In fact, its Co Founder Phil Knight, emphasized the opposite and had these words to say about people and leadership.
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
It boils down to being on an even playing field with your team. Sure, we all have deadlines to meet, customers that need answering, and when you let go of control to what people can accomplish, their performances can excel to another level.
Phil Knight is actually a big proponent of warfare and what he noticed about his heroes during home-schooling was that real confident leaders in charge of chaos didn’t say much, none was a blabber mouth, and none micromanaged.
It’s impossible to be everywhere at once, but it’s never impossible to create the conditions for success by letting go.
Infamous war figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Sun Tzu, and William T. Sherman would often cut communications from their troops in the midst of heavy battle.
That is they did not leave their subordinates without a rule to follow. In fact, their unique approach was to instill an authentic version of themselves into their troops during their absence. They didn’t have to tell their soldiers what to do every minute.
Can your people answer the same calling without you at the helm? That’s where true victory lies.
You may be scoffing at the idea of how letting go will increase productivity or success. Perhaps your team or organizations is doing just “okay”.
Okay in this day and age has never been an acceptable grade. What if you were able to make that transition to a degree of what great leaders have done before you? Your team’s attitude and results will speak for themselves.
Bill Walsh and The San Francisco 49ers captured multiple super bowl titles in a short duration. One could only image how the laughing stock of the league became what other teams tried to model after.
It started with Walsh and his strategy of The Standard of Performance which revolutionized his team and the NFL.
Bill Walsh reiterated, “I was committed to nurture an organizational conscience with a very high internal code of ethics, ideals, and attitudes. Concurrently, I was committed to identifying and hiring the best people I could find and teaching them what I deemed necessary to achieve the required levels of performance.”
The effects of this philosophy in place took shape before his eyes. He stated the results of what began to happen to the 49ers organization.
“More quickly than you might imagine, a transformation occurred in the quality of the team’s attitudes and actions. An environment developed in which adherence to the details of my Standard of Performance became second nature as we worked to become absolutely first class in every possible way on and off the field.”
Everyone in the organization who abided by this standard took a holistic approach of being more selfless, accountable, and going above and beyond to put a universal purpose above themselves. Bill Walsh didn’t need to shout orders at his personnel staff or employees who worked for the 49ers organization to drive his point across.
They knew their objectives. And everybody who was connected to the organization, was an extension of one another other and all members had an ownership in the organization to its success.
Imagine being able to transform a tribe of people in unison to a journey of obtaining the ultimate prize. The trophy is nice, but the supreme effort of everyone in the organization makes victory much more compelling.
There’s no need to crack the metaphorical whip and dish out demands or orders. That’s foolishness. It all begins with a destination in mind and a core belief of what your believe people can accomplish to get there.
During a 12 year span, UCLA coaching legend John Wooden would go on to lead his teams to win 10 NCAA championships. Clearly it’s ludicrous to think that someone as successful as Wooden would have control over every little detail in his basketball operation. Wrong, so wrong.
He placed a system of trust in place for his staff and players. Success would only go as far as he would let it. Letting the work play out itself from concentrated effort.
Wooden emphasized, “Without trust between a team and leader, there really is no team at all — just a collection of individuals who don’t amount to much.”
Shouldn’t you be more concentrated on doing your job and creating the right environment for success? Let those participate in their roles and assume responsibilities for what they need to do.
You could take a masterful lesson from Wooden as he did with those under his supervision.
Don’t be looking over at me for help or I’ll put somebody in who knows what to do.
And always remember these words when you feel the need to be in control of every situation….“The soul of success is surrendering to what is.”