Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for February, 2007

Letting go

I recently accepted the role of 2007 President of the Rochester Women’s Network, a nonprofit organization of about 550 professional women. Although balancing the demands of this volunteer position with my profession is challenging, I’m really enjoying the experience so far. RWN has two employees and over 100 volunteers working at any given time. —Amazing group of women.

One of the most significant reasons I accepted the position was for my own development—the opportunity to lead a multifaceted organization first-hand. It’s been awhile since I led a team. Not to mention it’s doing wonders for my compassion (for my clients) around how leading is not a simple business.

The volume of communications, details, strategies, and intentions that cross my desk, in the form of an fyi, or what do you think?, often generates an opinion on my part, so I regularly have to decide—Do I comment, provide guidance, dictate, facilitate, or simply let go? Letting go is, at times, the best choice. When I make the effort to sit back and trust, I realize that someone else’s approach or ideas may be better than what I can offer. If you can relate, it might be helpful for me to share a couple of points that I regularly reflect on to help me with the letting-go factor:

– When I find that the team or committee members are highly engaged in a genuine desire to make a good decision and/or are highly engaged in making a strong recommendation, I ask myself if getting too close might run a risk of squelching their energy and creativity towards finding solutions. Often, I believe it would.

– When I anticipate that the benefits of keeping my distance include a high level of ownership, accountability, and pride on the part of the individuals involved, I consider the possibility that keeping my distance may be most beneficial in that it doesn’t interrupt the level of the participants’ morale. Morale is a huge factor in a team’s success.

Although I realize that I’m not addressing a lot of the different levels of participation and follow up that a strong leader might provide here, this letting-go thing can, at times, make a real difference. I know I’ll make mistakes, and among our successes, there’ll be less than perfect strategies under my leadership along the way, but none will be for lack of trying. My guess is that this is true for you, too.

What do you mean, exactly?

I made an assumption, yesterday, about an email message I received. I thought I was being judged by the writer and that he was less than pleased. Later I re-read it, and for a few seconds I pondered the idea that perhaps I misinterpreted his message. Easy to do since we get to pretty much imagine the pace, tone, emotion and inflections in the messages we receive. And, of course, there’s our natural projection of our own insecurities about what might be meant.

After a phone conversation, the exchange was clarified—I was mistaken about the person judging me. This reminds me that email communications are tricky. Not only should I be careful about assuming what someone else is feeling based on their typed words, but as the writer, I also can’t assume that I’ll be interpreted accurately when I’m sending messages. So lately, when I sense the possibility of a conflict in an exchange, however covert, I pick up the phone. What a novel idea.


Hi, all. Well, here’s my very first blog entry. I’m looking forward to this. It should be fun, or work, or both. My goal is to reflect on my experiences and offer some leadership and life-related tidbits, stories or philosophies of interest. How’s that for keeping the possibilities open?

For example, I regularly come across communication barriers in the workplace. Go figure. And I might be able to offer examples of challenges and considerations for resolutions. Whether I’m personally experiencing leadership successes or challenges, or vicariously experiencing them through my clients, I hope to share ideas or philosophies that may help you as you navigate through your day-to-day. Or, I’m sure I’ll have much to share as it relates to life balance in the midst of today’s crazy expectations in the workplace.

I call my blog GET REAL because in the midst of establishing our roles as professionals, we are human beings, all experiencing very similar gut-level ups and downs. So I want to keep this real. I want to get real and stay there, and I want to help you maintain who you really are regardless of the varied roles you are fulfilling in your personal and work environments.

I hope you come back. If so, and you have anything to offer in the subject area you’re reading about, please email me, and I’ll be sure to include your perspective in future entries.

By the way, it’s Saturday afternoon and I’m working, which is OK because I’m choosing it. Choice. Ah, another subject for future pondering. Enjoy the rest of your day. Read the rest of this entry »