As an entrepreneur, you want control. You want to be the one in charge, making decisions and driving your business forward. But at some point, you have to let go. You have to learn to trust your Executive Assistant and your team to help you grow your company and reach new heights.
It’s not easy (we know), but it’s worth it. Here’s why entrepreneurs like you should give up some control — and how to do it successfully.
Why You Want Control
Entrepreneurs and leaders like you often want control in their business for a variety of reasons. In the early days, you likely did everything yourself. You were the one answering customer service emails or sending invoices. It’s hard to let others help you after years of being a Lone Ranger!
Beyond that, you may have trust issues. You aren’t comfortable with the thought of other people dropping the ball and ruining your brand’s reputation. So, you want to control how work is executed to maintain quality and service
However, there are downsides to this desire for control. It can lead to micromanagement, which can stifle creativity and innovation. It can also create a tense and stressful work environment for your team. They may feel like they are walking on eggshells or always disappointing you.
It’s important for you to find a balance between control and letting go.
Here are a few more reasons you may want to maintain control as a Leader.
Having control makes you feel safe.
If you’re in control, then you know what’s happening and you can predict the outcome. This feeling of safety is especially important for entrepreneurs because the business world is full of uncertainty. Having control helps you feel like you are mitigating risk.
You’re used to counting on yourself
In the past, your efforts to trust and count on other people may have been met with disappointment. Maybe a contractor totally botched a presentation and you were stuck staying up until 2 a.m. to fix it. Now, you only count on yourself.
But doing everything yourself isn’t sustainable. (You know that.) If you want to scale, you need to learn to delegate at some point.
Others don’t step up to the plate.
This is a big one. Many leaders feel like they have to be the ones with all the answers — even if they don’t want to be. Can you relate? It’s not that you want to have the final say or be the one to save the day — but no one else seems willing to voice their opinion. Maybe you’ve asked for help, but no one steps up. So, you end up taking control because you have to.
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You are a motivated and goal-oriented person.
You learned early on that no one is going to do the work for you. Your success is determined by you and you aren’t going to let someone else determine your pace or your results. You want to go fast and get the work done because you trust yourself. You’re controlling because you actually have lots and lots of goals.
Friend, something has got to give. As valid as these reasons are for holding onto control, you can’t do everything by yourself. You hired your team, or an assistant, for a reason. Let them help you. That is easier said than done, yes. But here are some ways to learn to let go.
How to Learn to Trust Your Team
Acknowledge that risk brings reward
Every situation, and every relationship, is subject to disappointment. Even people we love and trust are capable of letting us down. But the opposite is also true. New situations and relationships are also subject to success.
When you are conditioned to expect the bottom to fall out, or for people to fail you, you have to retrain your brain to also expect the best case scenario. If you close yourself off from risk, you also close yourself down from reward.
Here are rewards to motivate you to lean on your team:
- It’s rewarding to empower a person on your team to own more of their role or assume more responsibility. Watching someone grow and develop is a huge win!
- It’s rewarding to get time back in your schedule to do work that you’re passionate about. Even 10 hours back a week can feel life-changing.
- And finally, it’s rewarding to go on vacation with your family without worrying that your business is screeching to a halt. If you have to be working on your business 24/7, you haven’t built a business — you’ve built a cage. Wouldn’t it be nice to unplug?
By releasing control, you are paving the way to reap these rewards. Yes, there will be spilled milk. Mistakes happen. But, if you expect mistakes, you can prepare and get ahead of that anxiety.
- You can document SOPs for your team or your EA to follow and improve upon.
- You can communicate expectations during your weekly 1:1 meetings.
- You can practice giving encouraging — and consistent — feedback when work is turned into you to improve results.
You are capable of developing a trusted team with effort and intentionality. Keep these rewards top of mind when you feel a panic attack approaching!
Think of releasing control as an opportunity for learning — and unlearning.
The beautiful thing about life is that we have the freedom to UNLEARN. We can create a new normal. If you delegate something to your assistant and they mess up, your chest will tighten. The script in your head will say, “This is why I should do everything myself,” and so on and so forth.
If this is your default reaction…you can retrain yourself. You can pause. Take a deep breath and ask: is this a people problem or a process problem? Assess what happened without blame. What went wrong in the process that lead to this outcome? Was the mistake a result of a training issue? Or a workflow inefficiency?
When you jump the gun and start blaming people and believing that nobody can be trusted to do quality work… there is no learning in that.
Releasing control will challenge you to learn new methods for coping. You might have to start taking deep breaths at your desk, doing more journaling, or finding a mentor who will let you vent to them when shit hits the fan.
You will also have to learn new ways for developing your team. You can’t just bark orders at people or snap at them when something goes wrong. You have to slow down and assess what they need to get the job done well.
It’s hard to admit this, but your way isn’t the only way. Your way may be the best for some things, but I’m certain your assistant has time-saving tips or a fresh perspective that can uplevel one of your business processes. Be open to that new point of view!
Adjust your goals
Remember how we said that you want control because you have lots and lots of goals? Well, you may need to adjust their scope. If every goal or expectation is the size of an elephant, you are not setting your teammate up for success.
Adjusting your goals to be more bite-sized will help you release control more easily. You can teach and develop your team to hit milestones on the way to your larger goals. This will give you the feeling of having some “wins” under your belt — while adjusting your risk-to-reward ratio.
If you have a new assistant and one of your big, audacious goals is for your EA to set up and manage your calendar with a color-coded system that is representative of your ideal week…it’s gonna be a while before they can do this for you autonomously. If you expect that entire goal to be taken care of all at once, you are setting yourself and them up for failure.
You need to make this goal bite-sized for your assistant. Adjust it. Your FIRST goal should be: “I want my assistant to learn something new today about how I structure my week.” That is small, simple, and measurable. Once your EA demonstrates mastery, adjust your goals again.
Your NEXT bite-sized goal becomes: “I want my assistant to learn how my personal schedule affects my professional schedule.” As your assistant learns, keep adding to your goals. Give them time and they will master your entire calendar.
This is an exercise in delegating slowly and really breaking down your expectations. Your goal never changed, but you demonstrated FLEXIBILITY in how you guys got there.
Finally, focus on the most important things.
A leader’s job is to stay focused on helping shape the outcome we want — the end result — and to back away and not get in the weeds about HOW that happens.
If there are a few core processes that have to get done a certain way, fine. Die on that hill. But you can’t die on 87 hills. So, make sure you are cracking the whip on the most important processes.
Most teams do best when they are given the frame — or the expectation for the outcome — but have the flexibility for how to get there.
An African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” There is no doubt that building a team and learning how to release control and delegate takes time.
We know you like to move fast. Slowing down to develop a team feels like a form of torture. But, you will inevitably get tired of sprinting. Let go of control so that when you run, you can pass the baton and feel confident that you are delegating work to trusted hands.
Leaders, it’s time to let go. Risk brings reward and this is an opportunity for learning new ways to develop your team and adjust your goals. Lean on your team and watch them grow and develop.
If you need support, connect with us for a free strategy call today. We want to help you get trusted, vetted support, so you can successfully scale your business. Schedule a free strategy call today.