Don't let your need for control rule your organization

by Therese Johansson

I have had the privilege of being surrounded by very competent people in my professional life who have been good role models, inspired, coached and guided me to become passionate about the subject of organization & leadership. When I was newly appointed to a leadership position, a senior project manager called me into his office and began to tell me a story that became a mantra for me in my leadership. I was inspired to let go of my "need for control" and let my team try their ideas even if I didn't have full control of the path to the goal. Think what power there is in ten innovative, motivated employees as opposed to one individual.

The story of Anders

At one company, it was decided that a work task would be introduced that would have the task of approving or rejecting ideas that were beneficial for the company's development. The role was taken over by Anders, a man with solid experience in the subject. Time passed and after a period when it was time for the first evaluation of the position, Anders showed statistics on how many ideas he approved and how many he rejected. The problem according to the management team was that no ideas were rejected, Anders had approved all of the ideas that came to his attention. When the management confronted Anders on the matter, Anders replied "I have chosen to approve all ideas, good and bad, due to the fact that the percentage of the worse ideas is so low and the risk that we reject a bad idea, which becomes the company's best idea is too big”.

Learning to ride a bike

For me, it was important that my leader had trust and confidence in my leadership so that I would dare to let my employees try their wings on their own machine, with the risk that we made some failures. How do we teach children to ride a bike? Well, we put the child on the bike with a helmet, support wheels and run alongside ourselves, if they fall over we blow on their knees and put them on the bike again. Finally, the support wheels go away and we stand and watch with pleasure as the cone, with confidence, cycles on. I have a feeling some look down on people who have failed, when I lecture I mention that I built my career on failure and that I have had brave and competent leaders who dared to let me try and fail, lift me up, coach me and let me "cycle" on. Does it hurt to fail? Yes, it can, very painful even, but it is good because then we are very motivated to learn from adversity and thus develop.

Dare to fail – a competitive advantage

To succeed, you must have the courage to dare to fail, this is because when you have the sense to learn from setbacks, you increase the chances of success. The opposite of succeeding is to be outcompeted like that and practice failing and being rejected and you and your organization will soon become a pro at it. In order for resources with an entrepreneurial spirit to reach their highest potential, it requires a developed leadership that has the courage to direct creative and wayward employees. To achieve success, many more failures are required than successes, they are necessary lessons to drive individuals and organizations forward.