When you must deliver results beyond your direct control, how can you engage others — yet ensure great outcomes?
When you take control, you get to run every aspect of the project. You set the objective, plan the strategies, decide on tactical moves, and make adjustments to ensure success. But you may also reduce others’ role to being a follower. When you call the shots, they learn to depend on you, and the whole burden of success is upon you.
When you give up control, you make room for others to step up to leadership. You can engage them to take a full measure of ownership and to really invest in the outcome as an owner. But they may not share your standards, knowledge, or skills, and it can be foolish to hope for the best.
Here’s the resolution: Take charge without taking over
When you take charge of the process, you carefully assess the needs, resources, and choices. You design the path forward without getting sucked into solving the problems yourself.
Your main job is to make sure the goals and success criteria are on target, the plan is realistic, the people are engaged, and the energy keeps flowing. You can use frequent check-ins to verify progress – as long as you bring the leadership back to the team, vs. taking over and addressing the issues yourself.
In other words, you design the game, then invite others to play. As the game designer, you make sure that the game is (a) winnable and (b) really worth winning.
Then let the games begin.
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