The Leadership of Letting Go, Part 5

Inspired by The Equatorial Stars - Robert Fripp & Brian Eno.Leadership is increasingly challenging: more demands in less time. Upping the number of hours doesn’t help either since the time to recharge and be fresh for the next day’s challenges gets eaten away. During the rest of the week, we look at some simple tools that leaders can use to help them let go of that which is not theirs, so that they can respond well in any given situation.

The first tool is the Powerlessness Inventory. Take a sheet of paper and divide it into three columns: (a) Event or Situation, (b) What I felt the need to control, and (c) Mine or Not Mine?.

In (a) list any recent situation in which you felt stressed or under a lot of pressure. Be specific. “Staff meetings” is too vague. “In last Monday’s staff meeting, when Dave told me that his project will not make its next milestone on time” is specific. Don’t worry if you have lots of examples. Most of us do! This will help you to identify patterns and themes that are helpful for you to look at.

Then go through the list and fill out column (b). For example, in the example above, “I promised my boss that this project will meet all its deadlines. In addition, I feel disappointed in Dave, since he promised me that this would run smoothly.”

Finally, column (c). To complete the example: “Not mine: I am powerless over whether the project meets its milestones. Mine: I have power over my own feelings.”

When you study (c) you will probably notice recurring themes. These are topics that you can begin to address. In particular, watch out for themes that you label as “Mine”, if they are not part of your thoughts, feelings and actions. The thoughts, feelings and actions of someone else, belong on their list, not yours. This is the beginning of some important and lasting self-learning and a few steps along the path to better leadership.

Photo: DarkFrame / flickr

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