Leadership: Shut Up and Follow!

Photo by: Tambako the Jaguar http://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/
Photo by: Tambako the Jaguar http://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako

In ‘Leadership Prayers,’ Richard Kriegbaum writes,

“When I delegate, please give me the courage to release control and follow.

Sometimes I feel that leading is mostly about following, about deciding who is the best person to follow in some particular area.  I depend on you [God] to sharpen my intuition and sensitivity so I will choose the right people and delegate well.

How ironic, God, that the longer and better I lead, the more I depend on the skills and expertise of others.  Someone else is better than I am at every task that needs to be done.  They lead me in their areas.  I must trust our success to them, so I must trust you to guide my selection of them.

These few lines influenced my leadership more than most books.  Living them out requires:

1.  That I rely on the intuition God gives.

2. That I know my vision, mission and strategy well.  If I don’t, how can I choose the right people to be part of the team?  If I don’t, how can I communicate my expectations clearly?  If I don’t communicate expectations clearly, how can I expect team members to lead well?

3.  That I trust team members to develop the tactics and establish the metrics of success that apply our strategy to accomplish our mission and fulfill our vision.  I ask probing questions and help them think through their tactical plans.  Once the boots hit the ground, however, I have to trust their planning, their leadership, and the calls they have to make on the fly to adjust their plan to their present reality.

4.  That I understand they may not do things they way they do them.  As long as their actions do not compromise our values, this must be ok with me.  As long as their plan implements our strategy, this must be ok.  I’m not looking for people to do things the way I would do them.  I’m looking for people who would do things better than I would do them.  Micromanaging chains the team to my limited vision and abilities rather than releasing them to do more than I can imagine.

5.  That I realize that failure to achieve success is more my fault than theirs.  I chose the people. I communicated the vision, mission, strategy, and expectations.  I critiqued their plan.  Barring any failures in execution, I must be willing to roger up and say, “This effort was my responsibility.  It failed because I made some errors.”

What words impacted your leadership most?  How?