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The Best Leaders Let Go Of Control


As your business grows and you add people to your team, you might find it difficult to see where and how much you need to be involved in watching over them. Here’s a distinction I make that a lot of entrepreneurs find helpful: You can be in charge without having to be in control.

In control versus in charge.

Being in control means taking responsibility for running and refining an established system—either deliberately, because you absolutely have to be the one to do it, or unintentionally, because you aren’t trusting the people you’ve hired to perform those functions.

Being in charge, however, means engaging your team with your “bigger future” vision of the company, making sure that vision stays relevant to the needs of the outside world, and anticipating what you need to do next to create future success.

In short, when you’re in control, you’re being a manager. When you’re in charge, you’re being a leader. Both of these roles are vital for the success of an entrepreneurial business, but managing probably isn’t the best use of your time.

What makes a good manager and a good leader.

A good manager is someone who’s skilled at converting activities into processes. They see how all the moving parts fit together and where there’s room for improvement. How the company creates value, how the work flows, how the clients are supported—a manager makes sure these results are delivered consistently and effectively.

A good leader, on the other hand, is best at innovating, peeking into the future and asking, “What do customers want to buy next? What will they pay more for? What capabilities do we need to develop to be able to provide that?” Where a manager maintains, a leader multiplies. Once an innovation proves profitable, a leader hands it over to a manager to systematize and refine—it’s a constant relay between the two roles.

Focus on being in charge.

The best way to support your team members and help them support you as their leader is to give them a clear picture of the results you want to create: “Here’s the game. Here’s how to win it.”

With this awareness, they’ll understand exactly how to use their time, abilities, and resources to the best advantage. Meanwhile, you’ll be freed up to do what you do best: provide direction, confidence, and capabilities to your clientele and your team.

Are you in charge...or in control?

About the Author

Dan Sullivan is the world’s foremost expert on entrepreneurship in action. He is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.

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