The Necessity Of Empowering Others To Lead

*This post, authored by Equal Opportunity Schools’ CEO, Eddie Lincoln, was originally published on the Forbes website.

During my first six months as interim chief executive officer of Equal Opportunity Schools, I worked 12 to 16 hours a day, six days a week. When I transitioned from chief partnership development officer to CEO, I realized the current processes and procedures did not support staff or department success. Our internal culture suffered from this, and the organization’s direction had drifted like a boat without a rudder. At that moment, I was determined, with the help of committed leaders in our organization, to develop efficient and thoughtful structures that would facilitate employee effectiveness and ensure the organization’s success for years to come.

In pursuit of optimum performance and efficiency for the organization, I sacrificed my personal life. By the end of my first four months, it was evident that my health was declining. My relationships with my family and friends were negatively affected by the lack of time spent with them. Honesty required me to admit that this style of leadership was unsustainable. I needed to step back and allow others to lead.

Initially, I found it difficult to trust others to carry out plans in a way that met the organization’s short- and long-term objectives. I became concerned about vital areas of performance within the organization. It was challenging to let go of being directly involved in core aspects of the business because we might not have achieved our short-term goals to get the organization back on track. Also, I wanted to establish my standards and expectations for those areas. Otherwise, the organization might fail to reach its goals. It occurred to me that instead of spending all my time leading the organization to its best state, I had to learn how to provide others with a framework and empower them to build the strategies and systems that will position them to steer the organization in a way that produces the results we aim to achieve.

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