Step up to the plate again, Loyal Leaders; it’s time for another packed edition of the Leadership Toolbox! Captain Fletch here, excited to dive right in. Last month, we looked at how we measure success and the value of training as we play. This month, I would like to discuss a topic many people have struggled with as leaders: relinquishing control over others.

Admit Your Fears

I would not describe the fear of relinquishing control as a problem, but it does require admitting there is fear involved in the process. When you are a senior leader in an organization, you have invested a great deal of time, often years, into building your team into what it is. The idea of giving others control of something you have invested so much time and emotion into can be daunting.

However, if you are willing to admit this fear and confront it, you can begin to develop a plan and collaborate with others on your expectations and what is critically important. Two years ago, I took over as the State Chairman of American Legion Baseball for all of Nevada. In doing so, I had to relinquish control of my team in the summer because it would be a conflict of interest for me to manage a team in a league I oversee. This was not an easy task for me as I had already spent over a year developing my program and building it into what I envisioned it could be. I will admit I had a great deal of anxiety last summer as I turned over control of the team to my staff. I still attended practices and games daily and found myself frustrated because things were not done exactly how I preferred.

Despite this, I learned that by micromanaging and expressing my frustration, I was taking away opportunities for others to learn and grow as coaches. I also was missing an opportunity to take a much-needed break from all of my responsibilities and that by allowing others to do my job, they would gain a new appreciation for all that I do. I found that once I admitted these things to myself and my staff, I could move past them, and this summer, I have embraced a hands-off approach and allowed them to operate as they see fit. My staff is aware of my expectations and our development goals as a team, so I have allowed them to try and reach them in their own ways.

Accept That Your Way is not the Only Way

Part of what drives our fear as leaders is that others will not do things the same way we do. This is okay! There is more than one way to accomplish the same goal or skin a cat, as some people like to say for some reason.

Famed leader Dick Winters of the 101st Airborne dealt with this when he was promoted from Captain to Major during WWII. As he watched other officers take command of Easy Company, he found himself struggling to accept that other people led differently than he did and that he had to allow them to do their job as he did his.

Some leaders failed miserably, but eventually they found the right leaders and got the job done. Similarly, we may need to go through several leaders to find the right person for the job. The key for us is to pay attention to our teams and listen to their feedback when it comes to tactical level leaders. You may also find that someone has a better way to execute operations than you do, and you can learn new skills and operating procedures.

After all, no one knows everything, although some might believe that they do. The only way to avoid having the best ideas and innovations buried in the graveyard is to allow others the opportunity to explore and try new things. As we all know, our industry is founded upon the idea of exploring the unknown.

Realize That You Cannot Lead Forever

As we often say in sports, whether you are 18 or 40, at some point everyone is told they cannot play the game anymore. The same holds true for leadership. At some point you will no longer be the leader, and this is hard for some to accept.

Jake Fletcher Holding State Championships Trophy at NIAA Baseball Tournament in Utah

I have always believed in the philosophy that I should lead cherishing each day and think about the next person to take my place. I even wrote a previous article that was a letter to the next person to lead my baseball team someday. Every day when I walk on to the field, the first thought in my mind is to cherish the day because someday it will no longer be my team to lead, and I do not want to waste any of my days. It is very easy to spend your days as a leader wrapped up in the details of things and worry about the future of the organization, but why?

Life is such a short moment in time, wouldn’t you rather be able to look back knowing you experienced each moment of it to the fullest? This past weekend, I traveled with my team to a tournament in Utah. I assisted my staff on the bench by keeping game charts and providing information for them to make decisions on the field. As I watched my team win the tournament, I felt great joy just to be part of the game and the team.

At some point, we must realize that we will not always be the ones calling the shots and that just being part of the organization is a worthy experience. I was proud of my coaches and players for their success and for achieving the goals and vision of the organization. I was also proud of myself for allowing others to lead and for feeling the joy of being the person who leads the team to success.

So, as you look to your own teams, do you find yourself afraid to relinquish command to other leaders? Have you admitted your fears? Have you come to terms with the fact that your way is not the only way to succeed? Have you realized that someday your tenure will end? Do you cherish every day with your team and prepare your team and yourself for your inevitable departure someday?

Realizing the answers to these questions will not only prepare you for when that day comes, but it may just be the tool in your box that makes you a leader of legendary status. The kind of leader that lives on long after they have departed the organization. Until next time, Captain Fletch, over and out!

Fletch’s Favorites

Last month, I forgot to add a song to our new playlist for The Driller, so this month, you get two on the playlist!

Play Ball – AC/DC

I often listen to AC/DC on bus rides to games; this song seems fitting for my article about measuring success last month.

I Go Back – Kenny Chesney

I love this song because, as a coach, I look at my players and remember what it was like to be a kid with big dreams, and I try to be a coach who helps them reach for theirs.