The Leadership Challenge 

In today’s time, leaders are under severe pressure to:

  • deliver more with less
  • be more responsive to stakeholders’ needs (customers, bosses, teams etc)
  • have definitive answers to complex adaptive challenges 
  • be the single point of accountability  
  • provide high degrees of certainty to all their constituents 
  • keep the boards and regulators happy! 


The Typical Leadership Response 

With the above forces at play, almost on a daily basis, it is understandable that leaders can sometime fall prey to: 

  • directing and managing, as opposed to leading 
  • operating in a mode of urgency, running from meeting to meeting (often under prepared)
  • moving from fighting one “fire” to another, even when there really isn’t a fire!
  • behaving in a reactive manner
  • focussing on the short term priorities only 
  • not being present in their interactions with others
  • being efficient, at the expense of being effective

In a nut shell, leaders can display “controlling” tendencies – which is a result of a thinking pattern along the lines of “If I can be across everything I need to, I can finally feel in control…”


The Consequences

Whilst the above can work for a short period of time and even create acceptable results, it becomes harder and harder to sustain over time, especially the higher up you go. 

Furthermore, it comes at a high price, in the form of constraining growth, success and fulfilment for:

  • yourself
  • the team you lead
  • the team members


Is there a better option? 

Yes. But it does require the leader to think and act differently.

To think differently, the most important question a leader must ask themselves is this: 


How do I let go…even more?”


To act differently, the leader must:

  1. Become more comfortable with the unknown
  2. Redefine their job description 
  3. Set up conditions for success   


1. Become more comfortable with the unknown

  • How do I become more comfortable with uncertainty?
  • What might get better if I was less controlling? 
  • How will I feel knowing that I don’t need to have all the answers? 

2. Redefine your job description

  • If I asked my team “what shouldn’t I be doing?” what would they say? 
  • What am I currently doing that I don’t like doing AND shouldn’t be doing? 
  • For us to be collectively successful, what must be my top 3 priorities?

3. Set up conditions for success

  • What conditions need to exist for us to be more successful? 
  • What systems are required to create the conditions identified above? 
  • How can I help establish the systems identified above? 

In conclusion, whilst the above may be simple in theory, it is not necessarily easy to implement! However, for leaders that can make this transition, the rewards are definitely worth it.