Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

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.


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