Let it go!

They say, “Time is money”, but money can’t make no time (make no time)
Sometimes it’s sunny, but sometimes it don’t shine (no, it don’t shine)
And life is a bitch, but sometimes it’s alright (it’s alright)
So I’ma let go of things I can’t control

Let it go (oh-oh-oh), let it go (oh-oh-oh) – D J Khaled


How we would love to let go of things! But the more we try to do it, the more we land up controlling! Reflect on how similar this is to an office situation wherein leaders do not let go of control. In the name of ensuring perfection or timely deliveries, managers often land up micromanaging their teams. Delegation becomes difficult.

Stories of people leaving because of bad managers abound. Micromanagement can be a real killer in the workplace. The underlying issue is the huge trust deficit that managers have when it comes to delegating work to their teams.

What goes out of the window at such times is kindness and compassion. For, a person who exerts control lacks empathy and can find it difficult to process emotions of their teams.

Control can take the shape of jealousy and possessiveness, leading to toxicity in the relationship.

Trusting the team to perform

How does one then let go of control? Habits are hard to change. It all begins by trusting the team to perform and giving them room to contribute, participate, and share ideas and thoughts.

Here are some simple tips that when applied consistently can support the changeover.

  1. Ask and not tell

The old way of leadership that had control central to its style is no longer appreciated. To have an effective team and great output, managers who are sensitive to the needs of their team, know that it is more fruitful to ‘ask’ then to ‘tell.’ These managers are driven by their commitment to empower their teams.

  1. Have flexible goals

Another thing that can work to overcome the habit of control is to be flexible when it comes to achieving goals. Workplaces are dynamic. Everyday there is an influx of information that has the potential to impact previously designed outcomes. Keep adjusting the goals according to the changes in the external environment.

  1. Data is the new oil

It is very easy to control and get swayed with emotions because at such times, emotions override every other thought. When we think logically and apply data or gather evidence surrounding a particular situation, we can adopt a different pathway to find answers. Data, when analyzed accurately can throw up new scenarios and possibilities when it comes to finding solutions to tough situations.

  1. Keep learning

Team members look upon leaders for answers and authority. Which means, the leader needs to dip into her/his expertise to guide the team and at the same time be open to learning from the team. Leaders need to be like sponges, soaking in new trends and new technologies.

  1. Surround yourself with the best

Effective and efficient leaders are aware that they cannot know everything. Hence, they surround themselves with people who are experts in fields in which they (the leaders) are not so proficient. This creates a pool of expertise and talent that can feed off one another and create new solutions.

  1. Quick results v/s perfect results

The era of perfectionism and perfect results is dead. If you want to let go of control and empower the team to be creative, then you must open the doors quick experimentations. Embrace the failures that often accompanies such efforts. The traditional approach of focusing on perfect results is dead.

To be an effective leader/manager/team player, the first step is to be aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings and action. What is the first thought that comes to us when we want to delegate work? What is our default position?

Do we get in the control mode, or do we let-it-go? And then, work around getting the right approach towards empowering the team and letting go of control.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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