Strengthen your team by relinquishing control as a leader.
When teamwork and results aren’t meeting expectations, it’s natural to question the approach to work. What does it mean to be a true leader, and how can you better understand what needs to change?
True Change Starts Within
In reality, the solution often lies within. As a leader, the best thing we can do for our team is adopt self-awareness. The ability to unpack individuals’ strengths and needs and structure a dynamic that works best for the team is paramount for the team’s success and creates a moment for the team to shift into a thriving culture truly.
Below, we’ll discuss:
- What does it mean to be a leader?
- What does it take to grow your leadership skills?
- What is the hierarchy of change?
- Being the change.
- Why should you relinquish control?
What does it mean to be a true leader?
There tends to be a belief that leadership is about management, tools, and wielding power. It’s about being in control of yourself. Good leaders are introspective and take time to learn about themselves.
A leader is someone who cares about relationships within the team, rather than the tasks at hand. Trust is built as intentions are clear. A leader who only checks on the status of the work doesn’t convey respect or trust to their team.
What does it take to grow your leadership skills?
True leadership development is about change from within. Self-awareness includes observing your gut feelings and understanding how past interactions and experiences shape your current self.
Reading yourself and the room around you is an important practice. Take notes of your instincts and habits. Be truthful about what needs to change, and request feedback from those around you.
- Do you welcome honest feedback about others’ impressions of you?
- Are you observant of your surroundings, particularly related to people?
- How are your relationship-building skills?
We also encourage considering assessments and strength-finders, but they can fall short. Assessments fall short when you take them, note that they’re interesting, and leave it at that. If you instead take one and use it as a reference to help you reflect and continue this inner work and change, it can be powerful. Results are a mirror to look inward and reflect. If you’re using a coach, peer, or mentor, the reflection moments allow continual practice to build with yourself and your partners. You can ask questions and see opportunities to explain yourself and your strengths better. Am I being perceived as the person I want to be? If people perceive you as manipulative, they won’t trust you.
Strength finders are a powerful tool to talk about how the team might best work together and how to understand what we’re capable of and where we do our best work. Even if we’re launching a project, whose strengths are going to help us prevail in those moments? What are the shadow sides of our strengths?
As you begin to better understand yourself, you’ll also gain greater insight into how your behavior impacts others, and how others’ behavior impacts you. With that insight, you’ll tap into team dynamics with greater ease.
That’s the change from within. Personal growth enables you to look to the future: your own, your team’s, and your organization’s.
Hierarchy of change
In order to achieve it, you must consistently pursue it. The hierarchy is self, teammates, team, initiative, department, division, and organization – It’s important to realize it starts with YOU. This self-work takes the form of looking inside, asking hard questions, and asking for help to accelerate your growth. The sense of achievement occurs when you’re confident that the person you are aligns with the person you believe people see you as.
You must consistently put in work to pursue this view of yourself. As importantly, you must put in that work as a teammate. Leadership development starts from within. Self-improvement means organizational change and cultural change.
Begin to build practices around the following:
- Check-in with yourself. Be aware of your emotions, and rein them in when necessary. Knowing the difference between responding and reacting is crucial.
- Understand your values. Align on your company’s values, and be open to letting that be a collaborative process.
- Know your boundaries. Clearly defined any relationship’s purpose.
Be the change.
Relinquish control of others and unleash them. What does this mean? What first steps should you take toward becoming a true leader?
The first step is getting a coach. It’s a journey of listening and being curious. Demonstrating the change is vital to leadership.
The change may be unexpected and there may be roadblocks or challenges that you need to be prepared for. Our epiphany was becoming keen on delivering results, shifting from focusing on the work to focusing on the deliverables, to the content, to the curiosity and the growth.
The question became, how do I support people in these ways? Where do I fall short?
No matter the organization, you’ll encounter obstacles at some point. This shift in focus from work to output provides a fresh perspective for analysis. Approaching from a position of collaboration rather than control opens up room for creativity amongst those responsible for the work.
Why should you relinquish control?
When Voltage Control was founded, it was only me. It became a constant evolution. The next phase was relinquishing responsibilities to Jenny Robertson, until the murder. When we lost Jenny, coping with the tragedy was incredibly difficult and it meant I had to jump back in 100% while processing the loss. She was our Head of Operations, and the role grew with her involvement, so restructuring took time.
At the fringes of the tragedy, we began to pull new people into the company. It was delicate, but healthy to begin to reset boundaries. I began creating moments for the team to soar and allowing myself moments to only lean back in when we needed to build team confidence.
Relinquishing control takes work, but it’s well worth it. By leaning back, a leader develops trust in the team as the team learns self-confidence. This occurs with time, ideally enabling individuals to make decisions in an environment where they’re likely to succeed. Uncomfortable moments are part of that. Make sure that employees are adequately supported through this stage. This situation is uncomfortable for most leaders, so it’s worth considering hiring a personal coach to help the process.
Through learning as a leader, you also unveil potential strategic leaders, a huge advantage to the future of your organization. These strategic leaders are realized through relinquished control: thinking creatively, exploring new skills, and learning from teamwork.
For us, losing Jenny resulted in a team working collaboratively to innovate. Creative thinking that arises from challenging current workflows enables an organization’s long-term thinking. When the nature of the team is to work with change rather than avoid it, there are constant opportunities for self-improvement. It’s healthy for an organization to do so proactively and encourage it amongst teammates whenever possible.
Taking steps to grow as a leader requires consistent practice. By putting in the work, flexing the muscle eventually becomes instinctual. It also generates immense value in the long run. By understanding individuals on the team at a greater level, understanding team dynamics become easier. With practice putting in the work yourself and embodying the change you want to see, people begin to trust your intentions and open themselves up to learning. They also begin to flex collaborative muscles. As this process unfolds, team dynamics tend to evolve for the better.
Looking for guidance with next steps? Check out our Leadership Development Programs. They’re designed to reveal strengths and opportunities within the team, beginning with you. You’ll leave with confidence, having taken first steps in implementing change as an individual and a team.