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Become a Better Leader by Letting Go (A Little)

As your business grows, you won't have the time or energy to make every single decision. Here are 5 steps for relaxing your grip on the reins of power.

One major mistake that entrepreneurs often make is holding onto too much control over their businesses. Not only is that a bad thing for the entrepreneurs (got ulcers?), but it stunts the growth of their people. In order to solve this dilemma, you will need to let go of some of the day-to-day control you wield over your business, and give it to your team. Here are 5 steps for doing just that.

1. Stop making all the decisions.

To break the habit of constant supervision, stop making all of the decisions for your employees, and encourage them to make their own. Start with something relatively easy, like organizing a company event, and let employees control every aspect of the event planning. Above all, avoid the temptation to jump in and start making decisions again when things aren't going exactly the way you would like.

2. Delegate tasks and authority widely.

As an entrepreneur, you are naturally involved in every aspect of your company. Unfortunately, this makes it all too easy to wind up micromanaging everything your people do. By delegating tasks and authority throughout your company, you will ease your own burden while allowing your employees to pick up vital tasks, helping them gain both experience and confidence. Rotate authority throughout all levels of the organization to reveal the full potential of your staff and to see what works best for them--and for your company.

3. Involve employees in determining goals.

Employees will feel more invested in their jobs and in your business when they are personally involved in the creation of the organization's--and their own--goals. Being involved gives them a real voice in the process, upping engagement and ensuring that their goals are in line with the company's goals.

4. Open up your books to all employees.

There is no good reason to keep employees in the dark about your company's financials and how you make your money. Regularly sharing financial data with your people encourages them to take ownership for the numbers. When they see the results of their work on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, employees are able to fine-tune their performance and actively grow as team members.

5. Create self-managing work teams.

Give your employees the power to manage themselves. Set up teams throughout your organization and assign them specific projects to take on--along with the necessary authority and responsibility. Give them the autonomy to create their own schedules, budgets and work systems, within reason. You'll see that employees with the authority to manage themselves are employees who are excited to come to work.

Here's another way to think about it: If you had to take a year out of the office, could your company sustain itself without you? Are your employees empowered enough to make decisions on their own? If the answer is no, it's time to stop making all the decisions yourself and spread the wealth.

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Last updated: Sep 24, 2013


While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest columns, and visit him anytime at

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