Once upon a time, part of my job here at the university was to act as news and features editor for our alumni magazine. I like to think I was pretty good at it, and I enjoyed the work.
Then I got promoted into a new position. With the new job came added responsibilities, and I had to make some decisions about my level of involvement in certain projects. The magazine was one of them. Reluctantly, I relinquished the beloved editor role to another staff member.
I tried to back off. But sometimes I found myself offering unsolicited advice to the new news and features editor. Usually, the advice would be along the lines of “This is how I used to do it.” Occasionally, my advice was useful. Usually, not.
The funny thing about this is that our alumni magazine is a much better publication now that I’m not as involved. I’m not sure if there’s a correlation to my diminished role in that publication and its subsequent improvement. It can be humbling to realize that sometimes your interest or involvement in a project or program may actually be impeding progress. But you can think of it another way. Not that you were impeding progress, but than now, by relinquishing a level of control, you are empowering others to do great work.
Sometimes it’s hard to let go of a project we love. It can be tough to give up a pet project or a job we are so used to doing on our own. But as managers and leaders, an important part of our job is to let others do more. And it’s important for us to grow by letting go.
Are you standing in someone’s way because you’re too involved in a project or a process? Try letting go and letting someone else give it a shot. The results may pleasantly surprise you.