When embarking on the journey to Self Management, it’s easy for leaders to let go too fast, or not let go enough. What’s the best approach to letting go?
I often hear from CEOs or business owners who have embarked on self-management, that they struggle with letting go control. If they are really committed to self-management and are the instigators, supporters and leaders of the change, they will frequently let go too fast. In an effort to visibly divest themselves of control, they can leave a vacuum for employees into which too much uncertainty creeps. If you haven’t put in systems to replace the control you once had so that everyone has at least some idea of how to take on a distribute your authority, it can cause problems.
I’m a very pragmatic person so I’m always looking for ways to prevent roadblocks and un-jam pile ups.
One way in which CEOs can avoid the problems of letting go too fast is to make a letting go plan. But how?
Identify all the areas and issues over which you had ultimate control or influence within your business. These might include decision-making, the vision for the business, SLT hires, final annual accounts, being the company spokesperson – there will be many different areas.
Let’s take decision-making. List all the things for which you have the final decision. Everything from SLT hires to who is invited to speak at the annual conference or the charity your organisation supports. Set up a simple grid to evaluate each item you list: Critical, Important, Unimportant. You can have more levels if you wish. All you are trying to do is understand which of your decision-making capacities are critical to the stability of the organisation, which are important but not critical, and which are genuinely unimportant. Start with divesting yourself of unimportant authority first. And then gradually divest yourself of more and more.
Each time you let go of authority and control, communicate it. You can never over-communicate in a process of moving to self-management. Let people know at the start what you are immediately letting go of, what you intend in the future to let go of and when (if you know) and let them work out how to take responsibility for that function. If you do it gradually, visibly, communicate it well to everyone, the company will have the best change of navigating the occasional storms of self management.