Real Life Leadership Blog; Holding on too tight?

In my series of real life leadership reflections, I’ll share some of the lessons from my own leadership journey. I develop other leaders and am a leader myself. I’ll share things that I am struggling with today and how I am developing, or not! Leadership is not as simple as all the books make out. I know, I wrote one of them!‘ Lucy

Are you holding on too tight?

Post Three, July 2023

Over the last two weeks, I’ve received several examples of superb feedback of the results that my team are having with clients. Some wonderful and impactful courses and interventions that I hope will have positive ripple effects in those organisations for years to come.

Then, last week I had to let go and leave them to it whilst I stayed in bed. It was surprisingly hard. Why?

Well firstly, I caught Covid (yes, it is still a thing). And secondly, I have a tendency towards holding on too tight, mild control-freakery you might say…

The first knocked me for six. The second is something I have been working on for some time.

This is how it panned out. I had a busy week diarised, with me personally booked to deliver four different workshops.

On Saturday, I began to go downhill and tested positive for the dreaded C19. I realised that ‘hoping’ to be better in time for the first workshop on Tuesday might be a bit naïve. I don’t like to admit weakness (do any of us?), but I knew that last time I had it I was knocked out for a week, then it took me another two to recover.

So, I started to solve the problem. I called around, mobilised the team and sent through briefings for them for Monday morning. I thought about how they could run it differently without me there, and tried to plan how they could do it.

But my brain wouldn’t work properly; I couldn’t think. I was exhausted and poorly.

So I started to worry. Half asleep / bleary eyed, I started to type agendas. I tried to fix it and tell my team what to do.


Oops. There’s an issue there Lucy. Leadership is the art of engaging and empowering others to achieve the goals you’ve set. I realised that, once again I was not living up to one of our core guiding principles: Walk the Talk.

I shifted it around in my head, I changed my paradigm. This was not a challenge for me to overcome, but an opportunity for my team to shine.

After all, I have a team around me that I trust. They gave me some amazingly proud moments last week when they delivered the most superb outcomes on courses. They don’t need me there really. As long as I brief them correctly, I can step away.

So that is what I have tried to do. Not perfectly, but hopefully well enough that our clients are happy, and get something different from the experience, as well as realise it doesn’t always have to be me in the room.

I have to say, big shout out to my team – they have been amazing. They’ve rearranged things and stepped in and have delivered possibly even better results than I would have done.

The benefits are that the clients are having the opportunity to experience a different facilitation style, and my team are having the opportunity to develop their own style.

I’m chilled about it, and am slowing down coming back to work, so that I am properly well.

So, I am sorry if I missed you over these two weeks, but next time we meet I will be well rested and back on form. And I will be handing over more regularly. Because my team are brilliant!

Take care all. And if this wave of Covid hits you, go to bed. Have faith in your team – if you’ve been leading them well, they’ll thrive. And if not? Well maybe you need to start reflecting on your leadership too.


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