Giving the Gift of Control

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Agile Best Self Principle #12: At regular intervals, reflect on how to become your best self, then tune and adjust.

As part of our series on the concept of “control”, I’m going to twist this principle up a little bit, and look at it through the lens of control. The year of 2020 stretched us all in ways most of us have never seen in our lifetimes. Very few of us got through 2020 without realizing what a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world we live in. In a VUCA world like this it is even more important to look to our cornerstone principle:

Agile Best Self Principle #1: Our highest priority is to be our best self and enable others to be their best selves.

To that end, one of the best ways to enable others is to give up some control. I’m not talking about giving my 14 year old the car keys. I’m talking about making space for others to learn and grow. Esther Derby refers to letting people put their “fingerprints” on something when going through change. I fully support that and have seen first hand how powerful this approach can be.

As a parent, team member and a coach, I’m constantly asking myself: “Am I giving people the gift of control? Am I giving them guardrails for success and helping them co-actively frame out outcomes so that they can be successful?” Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes that answer is no. Frequently I have been in the wrong spot at the wrong time. But part of the journey to be my best self includes paying attention to tuning and adjusting (principle 12) while keeping the concept of enabling others (principle 1) dead center.

This is a delicate, contextual dance. If I step in too much with my son’s homework, I end being the only one that remembers that speed = distance / time while velocity has directionality. If I step in too much with a team, the solution is my solution, and disappears the second I leave the room. On the flip side, if a team has no experience or understanding of a concept, leaving them to “figure it out” on their own can lead to a significant amount of spinning and frustration. Ultimately, my goal is to get those who are in my sphere to get their fingerprints on a solution as soon as possible. Yes, this may mean increased frustration or pain, but it also means increased learnings.

Here is your control challenge: Over the next week, where are some instances where you can step back so that another person can step forward?

Copyright © 2021 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Published by MichaeleBestSelf

Connector, Catalyst.

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