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Top Leaders Sometimes Have to Get Out of the Way

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, September 27, 2013

That's not going to cut it in an era in which being nimble and taking risks will be rewarded, and where the overall revenue pie is shrinking. That isn't to say some big mistakes can't cost you your job, but inaction will do the same thing.

You know you don't have all the answers, and neither do your subordinates, but they know about their world, and they're more likely to have the right answer in those narrow areas than you are. Make them accountable for their decision, but let them make the call. That's the only way you'll be able, overall, to make the transformational process change that will prepare your organization for a much different business model.

Do some introspection. Maybe it's time to have to have a private conversation with yourself and realize the only way this is going to work is if you let your people try something and be okay with making mistakes here and there. If you can get to that point, you're well on your way to something other than leading or following—you'll be leading by getting out of the way.


Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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2 comments on "Top Leaders Sometimes Have to Get Out of the Way"


Michael Ackermann (10/15/2013 at 6:59 AM)
Philip, I agree with your article; however, these days bottom up translates very often into inertia from the top. While a team is often capable of improving tactical measures, it cannot always have the vision that leads to significant change. Usually, the senior leaders/CEO have the broader insights that leads to a vision or transformation. I totally agree with you that leadership has to occur on all levels and you can see that on every successful athletic team. Rather than having an attitude that people work "for you" leaders need to have the attitude that people work "with them". That attitude change will go a long way

bettynoyes (9/27/2013 at 12:20 PM)
I agree Philip! It is the middle managers who know what is dysfunctional and how it becomes more dysfunctional at time of stress and change. My caveat is that many have not had the opportunity to be offered some basic management skills in a safe "arena" of discussions in the classroom and with skilled mentors. Dealing with conflict, managing change using skillful communication, organizing teams and holding them accountable, rewards and recognitions that work, etc. An educational approach to these "soft" skills is essential before we can expect them to "run" with the ball.