19 February 2017
Over the years I have heard so many people assume when talking to entrepreneurs that they have difficulty letting go of the handle bars. Whilst this may be the case for some, its certainly not the case for the ones who break through and become uber successful. In fact I’d say there are some similarities in degrees of success and the amount people are able to actually let go.
I remember some years back, a senior manager coming to me and explaining that one of the new people who’d joined was complaining that I had my eye on his every move. The senior manager said “that’s strange, Lawrence never interferes and just lets me get on with it, in fact I never see him!”
I explained in the best way I knew, using a sport analogy. “If I throw the ball to someone and they catch it time and time again, I will never think twice about passing the ball to them in the future. If on the other hand, there is someone on the team that every time I throw them the ball, they drop it, or do something daft, it becomes very difficult to throw that person the ball.”
It’s up to us as leaders to coach people and help them with the easy passes and get people’s confidence up.
There is a fine balance because you can’t keep hold of the ball and do everything yourself in either sport or business, so you have to rely on others. Learning to delegate is a skill you must master if you are truly going to be successful.
Making mistakes is normal and it’s part of developing. I make them, so I can’t expect my team not to make them too. The skill is to ensure they never make one that breaks the bank or damages the brand beyond repair. So building trust on both sides is essential, one step at a time.
I am currently on my holidays in the Maldives. There are few places in the world where children can roam pretty much free. But here we allow it.
Coco who is 5 will head off to kids club straight after breakfast on her own, on the other island and if she needs us, knows who to call or she will find a way of getting back. Poppy at 10 is just all over the place and is known in the family to be the most similar to me. There is no point trying to harness this one, you can’t harness the wind and you can’t push water up hill, so she pretty much comes and goes as she pleases. This morning she arrived back after breakfast with a deadly jellyfish on a plate that she’d found and “rescued” on the sand. I was helping her put it back in the water thinking, “how did this even happen?”
It certainly makes for interesting conversations at meal times. Tegan our eldest, she’s 13, is so like Gail, calm, strong, always reading, such a great big sister and support to everyone around her, she was just telling us about her recent dive. She has her PADI Open Water qualification and has just been swimming with Tiger Sharks today. Every day it’s a more terrifying sea creature or experience with rapid currents or giant manta rays.
Every time I travel across to the other island and say goodbye to her as she goes off on her dive excursions, I remember Sam and Richard Branson’s diving friend Rob Stewart who died recently, an expert, one of the world’s greatest divers, yet, even the most experienced do have problems. It’s a dangerous sport, but sometimes as a dad just like as an entrepreneur you have to let go of the handle bars.
Responsibility is the key to everything. Think about it, when was the first time you were given responsibility for something, anything?
I remember the first time being allowed out all night. It was on a holiday to Ireland. I was only 14 or 15 and I said to my mum cheekily when she asked “what time will you boys be back?” I replied, “we’ll be back for breakfast!” My uncle John piped up, “Well make sure you are lads, because it’s fresh mackerel.” We closed the door of the house and jumped in the air in disbelief.
Had my mother just gone mad?
Well, we learned some lessons that night. A whole heap of them. It was like an Irish version of the Hangover. We never made breakfast either but the events of this story are reserved for a chat over a beer, not for my Sunday blog!
The point is, responsibility is something we crave. We rise to the challenge and we learn far faster from falling off the bike, knowing that we never want to cause that pain again.
I have learnt to have faith in my team, it takes time to build up the trust and it’s a two way street, but ultimately, you have far more fun trusting in others and allowing those around you to free up your time to develop others and the business.
So if you are holding on a little too tight, go on, throw your hands in the air, trust those around you and go find a steep hill!
Have an awesome week!
PS. It’s cocktail hour here 5pm. I have not seen the girls since lunch and that was a fleeting visit. I have just heard Coco and Poppy have just convinced someone to give them a ride back to the Water Villa so they can get ready for movie night on the beach. So it looks like they have made their own plans.