Letting Go

First blogpost here since 2010. I’m taking part in BlogJune (write a blog post a day for the month). So here goes:

I work as a manager of a learning commons in a polytechnic. As a result of reflecting on my ‘leadership practice’ for some study I’m doing, I discovered one of the things I really need to do more of is ‘let go’.

One of my key values is autonomy – I like to be able to work in an autonomous way, and I enjoy seeing my colleagues work autonomously. However sometimes I have a tendency to retain control of situations. For example in team meetings, if an issue comes up which is a bit challenging to find an answer for, rather than throw it back to the group to work on, I might say “Leave it with me, I’ll sort it out”…which doesn’t actually help to foster anyone else’s ability to be autonomous, or develop new skills, or confidence, or inspire creativity. Not entirely sure where this tendency comes from. I think this must partly be about power. Maybe I like to think I know more than anyone else, and I have all the answers. Or maybe I’m scared of what will happen if I’m not controlling the situation. It might all turn to custard, and then someone will put the finger at me…yes me!

I do know that teams have great capacity for finding creative solutions to problems. I’ve witnessed this over and over, and most of the time I’m pretty good at letting this happen, and allowing people to make learning mistakes. But just occasionally…

Anyway I’ve been practicing letting go, and am getting a little bit better. In fact maybe I’ve gone a bit overboard. For example, I’ve pretty much let go of worrying about the Help Desk Roster (which I coordinated for a long time) and whether we’ve got enough cover, as the two team members I’ve delegated it to have both been so awesomely excellent at sorting it. But late last night, I was asked who was working tomorrow, as the Saturday staff member was on annual leave. D’oh…no one! Arranging this is still my responsibility. I’d let go to such an extent I had forgotten to arrange cover, and as it was too late to ask anyone, I’ve ended up working myself. (Which I don’t really mind at all, and it’s very quiet, so it’s giving me the time to write this blog post!). I haven’t asked the staff member who does the roster to arrange cover for Saturdays, so the ball was in my court.

So this letting go is a bit of a balancing act. Yes, my colleagues are perfectly capable of doing most (in fact probably all) of the things I do, and I need to trust they will find their own solutions. The team have figured out the things they now own, and are responsible for. I just need to remember the things I haven’t quite let go of!

Happy BlogJune everyone.

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3 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Kate says:

    I have this problem also at times.
    And then at times I remember something from an earlier non library life…delegate, but delegate the whole job. Then trust. As long as they have the skills they should be fine…and then they are accountable 🙂

  2. Lee says:

    Good advice thanks Kate 🙂

  3. mj says:

    Welcome back to the blogosphere Lee 😉

    This post made me smile, thanks for sharing. Nice to know it also happens to other people, when you finally learn to let go, sometimes it still takes a bit of practice to let things go well.

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