Real Leadership. Real Impact. Real Results.

To Be An Effective Leader, You Must Give Up These 3 Things


Rising to the top of any profession requires some sacrifice. What have you given up to get to where you are today? Time with family and friends? Enjoyment of hobbies? Sleep?

While sometimes those kinds of sacrifices are needed to further your career, they are not the key things you must give up to be a top leader. In fact, many of the most successful leaders will tell you not to give up things like time with family or sleep, because those are the very things that support you and help you be a better person.

So what do you absolutely have to give up to be an effective leader? Here are the top three things.

  1. You must give up control.
    As a leader, your goal is to produce results through others. And the phrase “through others” is the most important part of that objective. In other words, it’s not about you doing all the work. It’s about your people doing the work. And if someone else is charged with a task, you can’t control it. Trying to control your employees’ every action and every thought is actually counterproductive to them doing the work. So you need to give up the notion that you are the only one who knows how to do it the best … that your way is the right way … that your experience makes you more of an expert.When you let go of the control, you gain so much, namely the ability to build capacity and become more scalable. In fact, when you support and coach people to expand their ability to be effective, you now, as a leader, can set your sights on other things. You can be strategic rather than constantly over-monitoring people’s work. You can see the future opportunities to seize, as well as the threats to mitigate. Now you can add value at a higher level, all because you gave up a little control. In fact, here’s a secret: Giving up control helps you gain greater control of your future.
  2. You must give up being right.
    As a leader, if you are “right” about a position or point of view, then your staff’s differing position or point of view is automatically seen as “less right” or even “wrong.” That immediately sets up confrontation, arguments, and low morale. But when you give up being right, then you’re essentially saying that there are many ways to view something, and that another person’s point of view can be just as valid as yours. Now you’re setting the stage for teamwork and collaboration.Here’s an analogy of how two differing perspective can be valid. If you’re on stage and facing out to the audience, your point of view about what the theater looks like is very different from an audience member who is looking at the stage. Which point of view is correct? Is the right point of view of the theater from the stage or is the right point of view of the theater from the seats? Of course, that’s a silly thing to argue because both points of view are legitimate.The same is true in your organization. Your point of view is literally about your position: where you are in the organization, the circumstances you’re dealing with, etc. Your employees’ point of view is from their position, which is very different from yours. If you can give up that your point of view is the right point of view, and instead figure out how you can align yourself with how others are seeing things, you’ll open yourself up to enormous opportunities. In other words, when you give up being right, you gain new views, new insights, and new information, which greatly expands your problem solving and decision-making abilities.
  3. You must give up making excuses.
    As a leader, it’s not what you do that necessarily makes or breaks your reputation. It’s what you do after you’ve done it that makes or breaks your reputation. When things don’t go as you had planned or hoped, how you respond says a lot about who you are and what you stand for. Even when things beyond your control happen, how do you accept responsibility for those outcomes in ways that don’t blame, in ways that you’re not rationalizing, and in ways where you’re being completely forthright?Giving up excuses is about acknowledging that an unintended consequence occurred, sharing what you learned as a result of this scenario happening, and then stating what your commitment is going forward toward producing positive results. So when you give up excuses, what you get back in return is that people see you as being responsible and as having integrity. They see you as being committed to learning and to getting results—the true hallmarks of a great leader.

Give it Up!

In order to get what you want, you often have to give something up. So if you want to be a leader who makes a positive impact on your organization and your people, then you must give up these three things today. The sooner you do, the more successful you’ll be.

Posted by Alesia Latson on November 3, 2014 in Leadership.


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