School is starting which reminds me of the speech my parents gave every year around this time – “We can teach you right from wrong but when you leave this house, it’s your responsibility to actually do it.”
Now that I’m an adult, I remember Mom and Dad’s wise words when it comes to my work relationships. You can share with people your experience and your expertise but, at the end of the day, you have to let go and let others do what they will.
For example, I’m a mentor to a couple of bright young professionals who are new to human resources. We talk about career choices, professional development, etc. I can share my experience and what has worked for me but ultimately, they need to figure out what works for them. Hopefully, my guidance gives them some additional options to ponder.
On several occasions, I’ve had co-workers who were clearly going down the wrong path. They would push for their agenda at the wrong time using the wrong argument. You know those people – the ones that you have to explain over and over again why they won’t make the same amount of money as the CEO. And, I would try to help them. At some point though, I’d have to let go and let them follow their own ‘vision’. The sad part for me was, that usually meant me helping them clean out their desk at some point.
Then there are those times when you’re a project leader. You’ve poured your heart and soul into creating something and now it’s time to step away and let others carry things forward. It’s hard. Very hard. People might say that no one will be able to fill your shoes…and they could be right. But part of your legacy as a leader must be to let go. And, the group might struggle. They might make some mistakes. But you have to come to terms with that. Later, you can say “I knew it” at the bar with a few of your closest friends. But not in public…not to the group.
Letting go is never easy but it’s required in many areas of leadership. But don’t confuse it with people not wanting you anymore. That’s not letting go. That’s being pushed out. And, if you can’t find a way to let go…you’ll run the risk of being pushed out.