Letting go for leaders

Letting go is vital for cultures, leaders, employees, and organizations. Without letting go, organizations whither away due to micro-management. Too much control stifles engagement, agility, innovation, collaboration, responsibility, and so on! It’s dangerous.

Ricardo Semler

One of the most provocative and inspiring initiators of letting go of control is Ricardo Semler. In 1982, he took over his father’s company Semco and got a burn-out.

He then decided to create a company in which he would like to work himself. He fired two-thirds of the executives and invited the remaining staff to decide for themselves: work times, salaries, and who would be team leaders.

Semco transformed from a mediocre, industrial enterprise with an annual 4 million dollar turnover (1982) into an organization that diversified in several industry groups (from air coolers to consultancy) and that makes 400 million USD yearly.

In an interview, Semler said: “Many leaders like the theory of giving employees more responsibilities and letting go of controlling mechanisms – but when it comes down to it – they don’t want to do it. You need a leap of faith as there are no guarantees.

Fundamental fear

It’s a fundamental human fear to lose control and embrace the unknown. People don’t want to let go of control because you don’t know in what direction things will turn when you do.

Says Semco: “My wife started a small hotel and she was completely through with consulting everyone. She wanted to rule – it was her hotel, after all. I warned her she would get little sleep if she would be the boss. We have five children and we travel a lot, so you need to make choices.

What could you let go of, so that your team or co-workers will experience more freedom and space? Click To Tweet

If you want to be free, you have to give your employees the autonomy they need to do their work. It’s not easy. People often forget that freedom comes with discipline and accountability. The job or project needs to be done.”

Can you do that? What could you let go of, so that your team or co-workers will experience more freedom and space?

This is book post #79 – Part “WE”

For more insights and tips, order my book Developing a Positive Culture

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Here’s the earlier post
The next post will be up soon!

If you’re confused, check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

By the way, if you want to contribute to a positive workplace culture, my next open workshop on Positive Culture Change Leadership is scheduled for 24-26 September 2018! More information and registration is only a mouse click away.

© Copyright Marcella Bremer, 2018. All rights reserved.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Danna Beal

    Great article, Marcella. I support all your work and believe now is the time for all leaders to embrace these truths. Let’s talk soon.

    1. Marcella Bremer

      Thank you, Danna! I support your work as well: now is the time to develop positive organizations where people can thrive.