Create Space for Your Team to Contribute

The seat of knowledge is in the head, of wisdom, in the heart. – William Hazlitt


In his post, Does Your Leadership Have “White Space?”, Michael McKinney discusses the creation of balance by giving space for his students to learn and to develop.

Here is a summary paragraph:

“Creating white space in your leadership requires balance. Leadership is an art. White space doesn’t reflect a lack of leadership or structure as it might seem. On the contrary, strong leadership is what makes it possible. A leader has to shape that space in an ongoing way to ensure that they are allowing room for people to develop themselves, contribute and lead. The question is: do you as a leader have the confidence to do that?”

Have you ever worked for a leader who micromanaged everything that you were asked to do? Have you ever been in a job where you don’t have time to reflect or evaluate? Have you ever been in a situation where every process and outcome felt scripted? Murray Bowen, creator of a new paradigm of leadership – Bowen Family Systems – described this as overfunctioning. He went on to describe overfunctioning as irresponsible responsibility. Bowen systems theory is articulated through Roberta Gilbert’s series of books found on Amazon.

May I suggest that this is not a productive leadership strategy. Give room for the leaders on your teams (you could be building leaders with every team member) to add their skills and intellect to the processes that lead to effective outcomes. Covey defines synergy as a result that is greater than the sum of the parts. As a musical conductor, I describe higher group functioning as “ensemble.” The top job of the leader is to articulate the vision and to get out of the way.

Letting go of control on a micro level could bring greater energy and more results on the macro level. Creating balance in this case means creating space for others to contribute.

TIP: Intentionally leave process steps for your team to define. Your leadership duty is to define the desired outcome and shape the process, not to do it all.

Previous blog revised and updated.

Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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