What helps distinguish leaders and managers is about control and, quite literally, how "hands-on" you are. If you have ever learned to play the game of golf, the chances are that you grip the club tightly. After all this is basically holding onto a stick that you will swing through the air and hit a ball. Allowing the club to "follow-through' - if you don't hold on tight, the club might just go as far as the ball. I appreciate that you may have never played golf, but you can liken this also to the tight grip of the reins of a horse to controlling your dog on a very short leash to holding on tight to your child's hand New golfers have to learn how to 'let go' - to relax their grip. If a tight grip is a ten on a scale, we want a 4 out of 10. The same is true of leadership and the way we hold on to our people. Hold on too tight (micromanage) and people have little freedom to use their own skills and strength. Hold on too tight to the club, and it is the golfer doing all the work. So the question is: "who should be doing the work?" The manager or leader or the member of staff? The golf club is weighted for a reason. If you allow the club to do the work, the swing and striking of the ball, becomes almost effortless. Relax your grip on your team and allow them to excel at what they do, and the work becomes almost effortless. Once you know, as a golfer, that the club is designed to do the job of striking the ball, and your job is simply to swing and allow physics do to its job, you can relax. Maintain just enough control to ensure alignment, direction and distance and the ball will fly according to the club used, and the size of the swing. If you want a long distance, you use a long club and a full swing. A short distance off the fairway onto the green requires a shorter distance club and a smaller swing. The power to achieve the distance lies in the tool being employed and the chosen swing - the rest is pure physics. So what can we learn as a leader? To hit your target, at some point you have to let go Isn't it the same? Make sure that you are using the right tool - the person needs the right skill set (and/or mindset) to do the required job. The leader's job is to have a little control to ensure that the skills are employed in the right direction for the right distance - that's about judging how far it is to the goal and translating that into the swing itself - in the case of people, the swing is influence and motivation... let the staff do the rest. And just like that golf ball landing exactly where you both planned and wanted it to be for the next shot. You celebrate. Unlike golf, though, praise your club and thank them for their effort. After all, they did all the work! When we use this metaphor on our golf leadership workshops, the feedback is instant. Hold tight onto the club and the golfer has to use a great deal of effort and the ball often ends up being pulled, pushed, sliced or hooked - going two-thirds of the required distance. Relax the grip maintaining directional control and the ball flies straight to the full distance of the club and swing used. (For non-golfers... try this with a horse, hold tight, the horse will slow down even when you whip it! Keep your dog on a short leash stays by your side while it is pulling your arm out of its socket! Your child dangles from your hand as you cross the road. And, fo course, your team members await your next specific instruction on what they should do next.) When the going gets tough, leaders in control let go! Yet, new golfers, in particular, find their grip tightening in more difficult situations. The very moment when they need to be most at ease, most truly controlling, fear envelops them, pressure builds, the grip tightens, and the ball goes astray. If you have to keep a tight grip on something, keep everyone tightly focused on the goal and direction The same is true of business leaders under pressure. Listen to the media hype about the doom and gloom of the current econom
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LA 016: How to Let Go and Gain Control
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