A Lighter Touch: Are You Reducing Your Leadership Effectiveness?

Confession: I’m a death gripper. Golf clubs, mandolin pick, kayak paddle, bike handlebars – whatever the hobby, I’m holding on for dear life.

Does it ever help my performance? Nope. In fact, my tense grip makes me much less effective. This habit causes me to slice drives into the woods, decreases resonance, and lose speed every time I’m on a descent.

And yet…I grip.

What’s mind-boggling is that I’ve experienced the benefits of a gentler approach. I’ve paddled farther, landed the fairway, and have a wicked tremolo when I’ve consciously loosened my hold.

But the moment I stop thinking about it, I start gripping again. It’s instinctive. And it takes a lot of practice to let go.

I can’t help but see this as a powerful metaphor for leadership. How often do we leaders grab on so tightly to our preconceived goals and methods that we throttle the creativity and empowerment of our teams to help us get there?

Maybe we insist our team completes the work the way it’s been done previously. Maybe we get stuck on outside “best practices” rather than being open to the team’s suggestions for how to move forward.

When we are too controlling in our leadership practices, we get strained collaborators and suboptimal outcomes.

A lighter touch is usually better. But it takes practice.

Consciously loosen your grip on people and processes and see what surprising results emerge when everyone has some wiggle room.

You’ll still have to maintain enough awareness and responsiveness to ensure the club, paddle or pick doesn’t go flying. But with a gentler hold, you can be more attuned to the process itself, and discover capacities within your team – and yourself – that you didn’t know were possible.