Letting Go: On Purpose

I don’t know about you, but I have experienced that each level of leadership requires a new level of letting go of control. I learned this again last week as I was struck with a herniated disk in my back that landed me in the hospital and then off my feet for 10 days.  Of course the timing couldn’t have been worse.

All of a sudden I found myself with a lot of time to reflect and not much choice in what I needed to let go of. It actually brought me back to my early days when I first started leading a crew in construction. I, as I bet like most managers and leaders, was promoted to a leadership position because at a personal level I was a really high-performer. I also was forced to learn real quick that I had to let go of micro-managing others and expecting people to do things the same exact way I did if I ever wanted to lead more than two people.  I am glad that I was able to let go and trust the guys I worked with and simply pay attention to tracking the result of their work, which back then was as simple as level and plumb walls and floors. (Not sure if any one tracks that in the new home construction I’ve seen lately).

One of my biggest takeaways from leadership lessons learned back then has always been: to not expect that an individual high-performer in your company is going to just magically be a great leader without some training and insight into how things are going to change when they start leading others.

Now fast forward to last week, and there I was with this commitment to do a presentation about building a high-performing culture in an organization through purpose and values for one of our Nick’s U sessions at the Crystal Lake location to 40 executives from all over the country for a national organization. Then four days later, I was also committed to a keynote presentation at the Talent Management Alliance’s People in Consumer Goods & Services summit in downtown Chicago. Although I am very passionate about sharing the idea of our business mode—and  the possibilities for other organizations to have the same kind of success we have seen when you use these simple tools—it was time for me to let go of doing everything myself, even my presentations. 

Then I thought about it for a second, and if everything I say in my presentations is true about our company culture, then a couple of tenured leaders like Amy and Scott should make this situation a slam-dunk. (Although Amy is a little short for basketball!) Hmm, I have to admit, that’s not an easy thing to let go of—and I really do trust them!

Well, the feedback I have received about the impact they had on the participants of both events has been beyond what I expected. By hearing Scott’s and Amy’s voices, our core message had a deep impact with a strong sense of integrity. We were actually modeling what we were presenting in the moment. 

 Nick's presentation slide

The opening slide from my presentation, in which Amy and Scott filled in for me!

And for all you micro-managers out there wondering if I was sitting at the edge of my bed calling them or waiting to hear the results, I actually was in too much pain to do much of anything other than wait until they had a chance to share their feedback later. As I laid there, I found it pretty interesting that I was getting a new lesson in letting go. I was happy to find that I did trust them because I know their passion and commitment to high performance matches my own. It is the passion that Amy and Scott each hold for sharing the things we do at Nick’s Pizza & Pub that is truly transformative!