Teaching your child to ride a bike takes patience. They jump on the bike; you run beside holding on while they pedal. “Keep pedaling. Balance. Eyes ahead,” you say. Then comes the big moment; the moment you let go. At some point if they’re going to learn to ride the bike you have to let go. They might crash. They might get a scraped knee. They might run into something. But if you never let go they never learn to ride the bike.
The same is true in life and leadership. You got to let go for those you lead to learn to ride the bike, and leadership is measured not by how well you hold on but by how many people you have taught and inspired to ride the bike. Letting go is key in leadership and influence. As a leader (and a parent) what do you need to let go of in order for those you lead to grow?
LET GO OF CONTROL
The more control you exert over a situation the less authority you give those you lead. Making a decision under the authority of your supervisor is one thing, but making a decision where the proverbial buck stops with you is a whole different story. You take decisions in which you will be held fully responsible for the ramifications much more seriously than minor decisions which carry no weight. Just like your physical strength, the more weight you carry the stronger you can become. The same is true in leadership, the more authority we give away to those we lead the stronger they can grow. Team members fully develop effective decision making skills when they are allowed to make real decisions that affect the entire team.
This is true in parenting also. Children have the best chance to grow in wisdom when they are allowed to make decisions that really do affect their safety, security, and future. Parents today want to protect their kids from anything that might harm them or hurt them, but the truth is that failure is a great teacher that we all learn from on occasion.
Let your staff have enough room to fail. Give your kids enough space to make some mistakes. Don’t excuse failure, use failure. Don’t lead as though you’ve never failed. When those under you fail let them in on your past failures and pass on what you’ve learned. By the way, why do some assume their team members will fail? You just might find they are extremely sharp and talented; in fact, effective leadership operates under the belief that those being led can and will succeed. The same is true for our kids. If you’ve been teaching them the gospel and training them how to honor Christ for years then why do we assume they will fall flat on their faces? Get out of the way and let God do His thing! That’s called faith!
LET GO OF CREATIVITY
If the only thoughts that come out of your team or business are your thoughts then your business or organization will be very shallow. Value your team. Affirm their creative thoughts. Listen to their ideas. It gets buy-in, and it makes them want to produce and create more. That’s what you want as a leader! I want my staff to get out and do creative ministry, not sit in their offices frustrated that I always put their fire out. As a leader you’d much rather have to reign a team member in from time to time than have to light a fire under him. Don’t downplay the dreams of your people. Receive their creative thoughts and ideas.
Added to that, parents, don’t downplay the dreams of your kids or expect them to live out yours. Their lives are not yours. They have different gift sets, talents, and abilities. They have different personalities. You can help them recognize their talents, but then let them develop them. Get out of the way and let God’s plan for their lives take shape! You may want them to be athletes, but God wants them to be artists. You may want them to be doctors or lawyers, but the Lord is grooming them to be architects or engineers. You may wish they would get post graduate degrees when they were created to work a trade or technical job instead and only go to college for a couple of years. At the end of the day the goal for our kids should be that they love God, love people, and do what they do with all their heart for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. We should want them to work hard, treat others the way they want to be treated, live unselfishly, and become disciple-makers for Christ.
It’s time to let go. What have you been holding close to the vest that needs to be released so your team can grow? How have you trained and influenced your team so that they can make effective decisions, and how are you letting them do that? Parent, how are you allowing your kids to live the life God has planned for them and not what you have planned for them? It’s time to let go and let God!