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Why Managers Need to Let Go

    Congratulations on landing a management role! Your new position is filled with exciting challenges and opportunities for growth. Suddenly, you’re responsible for the success of a team and it’s natural to feel a little nervous about the transition. You likely got this promotion because you have some great skill sets and capabilities. However, embracing new skills and letting go of old habits is necessary for your success. Are you ready to take that leap?

    Clinging to the Past

    Moving into a management position means taking on a whole new set of responsibilities. In your previous role, you were likely an expert, but now you’re faced with unfamiliar territory. Suddenly, you’ve gone back to newbie status and self-doubt may creep in as you navigate the massive learning curve. It’s tempting to cling like a dryer sheet to tasks that you’re comfortable with, as they provide a sense of self-worth. However, clinging to these tasks doesn’t benefit your team, your company, or yourself. In fact, it often leads to undesirable outcomes. Let me share a personal experience.

    My Transition Blunder

    When I transitioned from an Investment Lender to a Branch Manager, I made the mistake of holding on to a few high-profile clients, even though it wasn’t required in my new role. Here were my reasons at the time:

    At first glance, my reasons seemed valid. However, they weren’t the right approach. Let’s examine why.

    Clarifying Your Objectives

    As a manager, your role is significant, and your greatest responsibility is to the team you lead. Have a look at the article Why are you a manager? Understanding why you’re in this position and what you need to accomplish will help you see why holding onto unnecessary activities hinders your success.

    Rather than doing someone else’s job, focus on what matters. Consider the unintended message you send when you handle tasks that others could or should be doing.

    What Your Actions Communicate

    When you assume a leadership role, everyone watches how you behave. Clinging to certain tasks may send a few messages:

    • “I am more capable than everyone else.”
    • “I don’t trust others to do this work.”
    • “I don’t want to do what I’m supposed to.”
    • “I have an abundance of time, so I’ll take on more.”
    • “I’d rather be doing this than addressing your issues.”
    • “It’s okay to choose which clients or activities I prefer.”

    And the list goes on…

    More Pitfalls of Hanging On

    You may have a dozen reasons why you want to keep doing things the way you always have. I certainly felt justified in my example. However, there are several reasons why letting go is essential:


    Throughout my career, I’ve never heard a manager say, “I always have extra time on my hands,” or “I effortlessly complete everything I need to each day.”

    Managing requires superpowers, and there will never be enough time to do everything. Taking on unnecessary tasks will only consume precious time and increase the risk of burnout. While pitching in when necessary is important, constantly taking over tasks is not advisable. Otherwise, you will find you’re the last man standing at the end of the day while everyone goes home and enjoys their evening.


    When your plate is overflowing, it’s challenging to prioritize effectively. For instance, client needs will always be a priority, but should they take precedence over employee needs? I guarantee you will get plenty of mental exercise trying to juggle all your priorities without adding extra ones. 

    Employee Development

    Allowing others to tackle new challenges develops their growth and fosters engagement. A significant part of your new role as a manager is to help your employees grow and succeed. Instead of competing with them or trying to prove your abilities by doing their work, create an environment where they can learn and grow alongside you. Arrogance has no place in leadership—remember, you’re here for the bigger picture.


    Imagine how you would feel if your boss only allowed you to perform certain parts of your job. By not allowing others to take over tasks, you erode their trust in their own abilities. You unintentionally feed their self-doubt. When you take on tasks to ensure they’re done correctly, you only ensure that no one else will learn how to do them. This not only limits their growth but also hinders your own ability to focus on what matters.

    Personal Development

    We often hold onto what’s familiar because it makes us feel competent. However, the greatest growth occurs when we let go of our ego and step outside our comfort zone. If you aspire to advance in your career, your company will be looking for individuals who can think critically, plan effectively, take action, and achieve results. Great results aren’t achieved by doing others’ jobs for them.

    My Transition Outcome

    Now, it’s time to revisit my transition blunder story. At the time, I believed that holding onto a few clients was the right thing to do. However, let’s do a reality check:

    1. Rationale – I believed providing excellent customer service was a top priority for my company. By continuing to handle these clients personally, I thought I would maintain their satisfaction and preserve our good relationship. Change will upset them.
      Reality – Clients primarily care about their own needs being met, and they expect staff to change. When properly transitioned, they’ll be just as happy working with someone else. I was allowing my perceived expertise to inflate my ego.
    2. Rationale – These clients had complex needs, and I believed my expertise was necessary to handle them efficiently.
      Reality – There goes my ego again. As a manager, my role is to develop employees. To achieve this, I must trust them and create a workplace where they can learn and face new challenges. Developing employees to handle these tasks would yield far better long-term results than doing them myself.
    3. Rationale – Retaining a few clients would allow me to hone my lending skills and maintain my expert status. After all, managers should demonstrate expertise in specialized areas.
      Reality –  I chose to prioritize something I was competent at instead of investing my time where it mattered most. While it may have boosted my self-confidence, it didn’t benefit the team. Would employees prefer a manager who excels at their roles, or would they rather excel themselves?
    4. Rationale – My employees are busy, and I can help by taking the pressure off with these complex files.
      Reality – I was busy! I couldn’t effectively handle everything—I wasn’t Superwoman. By prioritizing these tasks, I postponed important responsibilities. I made the choice to create urgent tasks, and as a result, I worked excessive hours while everyone else enjoyed their evenings.

    Preparing for Change

    Before diving headfirst into your new role, take time to plan your transition. You wouldn’t buy a home without considering where you want to live, the size of the house, and your budget. Similarly, a management role requires careful thought and planning. To set yourself up for success, spend time gaining clarity about your role. What are you being paid to do? What outcomes do you need to achieve? Prioritizing and planning are critical in a management position. For more detailed guidance, check out the article on “Focus on What Matters.” Remember, it’s a good practice to periodically reassess what you’re doing to ensure you’re on track as the world changes.

    So, give it a try. Slowly release your grip, finger by finger, and let go. Use the time you gain to focus on your true priorities. And, dare I say it, leave work on time today and do something for your own well-being.

    By embracing change, delegating tasks, and trusting your team, you’ll not only become a more effective manager but also create a supportive environment where everyone can thrive. Letting go is the key to unlocking your full potential and achieving remarkable results.

    Ponder Points

    What specific activities contribute most to achieving my goals and driving the overall success of the team?

    Am I willing to let go of tasks I used to handle and trust my team to take them on? Why or why not?

    How does clinging to certain tasks or activities impact the overall success of my team, company, and myself? What undesirable outcomes might arise from holding on to unnecessary responsibilities?

    What messages do my actions send to my team when I refuse to delegate tasks or choose to do tasks that someone else could or should be doing? How does this impact trust, collaboration, and employee development?

    In what ways does letting go of familiar tasks and embracing new challenges contribute to my personal and professional growth? 

    To make commitments on letting go head over to the grow page. And remember to share your wins!

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