Why Letting It Go is the Leadership Trend of the Future

by Feb 12, 2015Blog, Featured, Leadership0 comments

This one will be tough for control freaks and perfectionists: Letting go of the past and looking ahead is the only way to move forward.

Who would have thought that modern leadership could be summed up in the title of a very popular Disney song?

Yet the biggest, most inspiring trend I see coming down the track over the next year is the need to let it go—to let go of control, let go of permanence, and let go of the past.

Letting Go of Control

As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

The frequency with which comments such as Eisenhower’s are quoted in management articles shows the enduring appeal of their sentiment. At its heart is the idea that leadership isn’t about making other people do things, but making them want to do those things. Equipping them with the tools and leaving them to do the job.

There’s a growing realization among leaders that we habitually get sidetracked into managing the details because we want things to be done exactly how we would do them. But this is wasteful. Far better to let go of our pre-conceived ideas and the desire to control how people work, to let it go and let them do the job well in their own way.

Letting Go of Permanence

The art of business is increasingly the art of managing change. But even as we’ve moved toward this principle, carrying change methodologies like Toyota’s lean production system into every area of society and the economy, we’ve tried to limit and contain change.

But change just keeps coming faster and faster. Those who really benefit from change don’t just manage it, keeping it contained in its box. They embrace it and all the possibilities it holds. They let go of any attempt to hold back the floodwaters, and instead look for ways to channel them, whether it’s using technological change, encouraging organizational change, or adapting to the psychological changes taking place in the workforce.

The range of methods for achieving business change is growing. The conversation around it will also grow this year. So let go of the tendency to look for something permanent. Accept that everything can change, even should change, and that channeling those changes is the route to success.

Letting Go of the Past

It’s only natural to become attached to the people we used to be, the things that we used to do. It’s where nostalgia comes from, a hazy form of memory in which we focus on the good we have lost rather than the bad things we have left behind.

But trying to cling to the past is a waste of effort. Instead, look to the future. Focus on the things you do now that you would like to leave behind. A leader who attempts to re-create their company’s past glory days is doomed to failure, as the world has moved on. One who looks toward a glorious future may achieve some success.

As the economy continues to recover, 2015 will become a year in which we focus on future growth rather than the past slump. So let go of the past, good or bad, and find a better future.

Letting go is one of the hardest things to do, but it’s also a powerful thing to do, and that’s part of what makes the idea so popular. It’s a challenge we’ll see repeated over and over again this year, and one to which leaders will have to rise.

Originally appeared on Fast Company: http://www.fastcompany.com/3041700/the-future-of-work/why-letting-it-go-is-the-leadership-trend-of-the-future

Mark Lukens, MBA

Mark Lukens, MBA

Founding Partner at Capatus
Mark Lukens is a founding partner at Capatus and located in the New York office. He leads the Capatus’ Global Talent and Advisory practice. He is also an expert in the firm’s research and nonprofit practice. Lukens has more than 20 years of c-level executive and consulting experience delivering strategies and transformational programs to firms ranging from start-up to Fortune 50. He has worked with clients in Europe, North America, South America, and Asia. Lukens worked extensively in various product and service categories including health care, life sciences, government, nonprofit, technology, and professional services. He also advises clients in other industries including commercial and industrial, retail, logistics and transportation, media and more. Lukens serves on several Nonprofit Boards and is a professor at the State University of New York where he teaches in the School of Business and Economics with a focus on marketing, international management, entrepreneurship, HR, and organizational behavior to name a few. Lukens has a technical background as a MCSE and earned an MBA from Eastern University.
Mark Lukens, MBA


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