The Art of Letting Go in Leadership and Parenting

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The Art of Letting Go in Leadership and Parenting
I am teaching my sixteen-year-old daughter how to drive. During one of our recent sessions, we nearly had an accident, what we call in my former company a ‘near miss’ accident. After our exchange, I reflected on the experience we shared, how I showed up, the impact I had on her, and how this small and powerful exchange can have a lasting effect on her confidence. It’s also helped me recognize the power and influence we have as leaders or parents on the experiences of others.
Here are some valuable lessons I’ve learned from this experience.

  1. Building Trust – Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship between a parent and a child or a leader and their team members. In the context of teaching my daughter how to drive, building trust means creating a safe and supportive environment where she feels comfortable making mistakes and learning from them. This process is crucial for her growth and development as a new driver. Similarly, in leadership, trust fosters open communication, transparency, and the ability to process information. When team members trust their leader, they are more likely to share ideas, contribute to problem-solving, and take risks, leading to greater confidence, productivity, and engagement. Thus, trust building is not just important, it’s essential.
  2. The Power of Praise – Praising others, particularly when learning something new, is incredibly beneficial. It can boost their confidence and motivate them to keep trying despite their anxiety. In the context of teaching my daughter to drive, I noticed that
    when I praised her for her, her confidence soared, and she was eager to learn more. This experience isn’t limited to parent-child relationships; it’s equally applicable to leadership roles in the workplace. A leader who praises their team enhances individual
    performance and fosters a positive work environment, encouraging growth and innovation. Never underestimate the power of praise.
  3. The Impact of Empowerment – Empowering someone, be it your child or a team member in an organization, involves giving them the tools, resources, confidence, and authority they need to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities. When teaching
    my daughter to drive, I found that empowering her to make decisions, like when to merge into traffic or how fast to drive in certain conditions, fostered her independence and increased her confidence. Similarly, in a leadership role, empowering team
    members can lead to increased job satisfaction, higher productivity, and improved quality of work. When individuals feel empowered, they are more likely to take initiative, be creative, and commit to their assigned tasks. Therefore, empowerment is not just beneficial—it’s a key component of successful leadership.
  4. The Benefits of Real-Time Coaching and Feedback – Real-time coaching provides immediate feedback, allowing for real-time adjustments and improvements. In teaching my daughter, I coached her and helped her correct maneuvers instantly, preventing the formation of bad habits or a catastrophic accident. The feedback helped her learn and become a more effective, competent, and confident driver. Real-time coaching can foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement in the workplace. Leaders who effectively address performance issues, guide employees through challenging tasks, and reinforce good practices see higher retention and better results. This approach enhances individual performance and promotes team collaboration, transparency, and trust.
  5. Letting Them Go – The process of empowering and coaching individuals is only complete with the crucial step of letting them go. In the context of teaching my daughter to drive, there came a point when I had to let her drive on her own and be responsible for her actions. It was a critical moment, not just for her independence but also for her growth and self-efficacy. She needs to take control, make decisions, and learn from her mistakes on her own. Similarly, in the workplace, leaders must create an environment where team members can make decisions and learn from their experiences. While it can be a challenging transition, it’s a necessary one. Giving your team the freedom to operate independently encourages ownership, innovation, and resilience. Fostering a self-reliance and growth culture will lead to a more dynamic and productive team.
    Letting go is not only a symbol of trust but also a powerful catalyst for personal and professional development.
  6. Embracing the Unknown – As I stepped back and let my daughter take on driving in her way, I experienced moments of anxiety and unease. However, I also realized this is just one of the many milestones she needs to experience to become a well-adjusted and successful adult. Similarly, as leaders step back and let their team members take control, they often experience mixed emotions, ranging from anxiety to excitement. Letting go can be challenging, as it involves trusting in the team’s abilities and accepting the potential for mistakes. However, this also paves the way for positive outcomes. Leaders can witness firsthand the growth and resilience of their teams. They will see innovative ideas come to life and increased levels of ownership and engagement from their team members. Letting go can also be a learning experience for leaders, encouraging them to reflect on their leadership style, become more comfortable with uncertainty, and develop an appreciation for their team’s diverse skills and strengths. Therefore, while challenging, letting go can be an enriching experience for leaders, fostering a robust and
    dynamic team culture that will lead to overall organizational success. In the spirit of transparency, this is my second experience teaching a daughter to drive. I didn’t handle the experience with my oldest daughter as well as I could have or would have liked.
    While she is an effective and capable driver, there were times when I overcoached her, reacted too quickly, and came across as judgmental or too critical for her liking. Thankfully, each of us continues to learn and grow from these experiences and evolve. I genuinely believe I would get it right the third time! I welcome your thoughts, ideas, perspectives, and stories on this subject.
    If you would like to learn more about our Executive Coaching or Leadership Consulting practice, please reach out to me directly at
    Best regards,
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