How to turn the ship around

One of toughest challenges you will face when you run companies is letting go. It’s part of the leadership dilemma.

First, you make the decision to climb the corporate ladder. When you first joined the workforce, you spent time with your band of colleagues. You and your band went through the routine of work — clocking in and clocking out. Living for the weekend, or the things you wanted in life but had to work in order to afford.

Then one day you make the decision, you make the choice to become better at your job, to put the hours in, to stand out, to have your ideas heard and implemented. You let go of the familiar, the routine, the certainty … to see how far you could climb to get further to the top.

You do this by doing things, taking charge, giving direction, taking over the reins, hiring, sometimes firing and making the tough look easier.

Some people see you as a completely different species, Just like the unpopular kid in high school — you don’t get asked to hang out during lunch or when 5pm ticks around.

Some others, usually on the rung higher than you, see you as a threat and use some of their time plotting on how to undermine you. You learn some pretty harsh lessons on who to trust, and who to be wary of.

Then, finally, you get to the top.

You now have a team of executives to lead. You’re now responsible for the company and all the people it employs — and the families of the people the company employs. People depend on your product or service, without it (and you truly believe this) the world would not quite be as great.

So you do what got you to where you now sit. You do even more things, you work even harder and you make even tougher decisions.

Months, sometimes years go by and you realize … this just is not working. Being in charge means sacrifice. Either the company wins or you don’t. You lose relationships, your health and even your own happiness. But most of all, you lose time.

It is then the light bulb goes off. You realize you need to let go. Use your time and energy developing the people you surround yourself with. Ask them to shoulder the load. You give them the responsibility they signed up for, the work they hungrily want to excel in.

The time you invested before, is now 100% delegated. You tell your team to see you whenever they have a problem. You tell them the direction you want to head in. The goals are always a stretch — but your team are up for the challenge. You work with your people, to give them confidence and make it okay to fail as long as they grow and learn.

Funny thing happens. Everyone is happier. The business thrives, so does the people and as a result the energy and culture.

You lead the orchestra, while sometimes panging to pick up an instrument now and then. And that’s precisely the moment you become a true (and rare) leader. When you make the most important decision … and let go of the wheel.