If you’ve found your way to this page, then you just might be that founder, owner and visionary who really struggles to let go. The company is your baby. You’ve had a hand in every aspect of it for years, and you don’t know how to feel comfortable unless you keep doing that. If that sounds like you (or the person you work for), don’t worry. You have plenty of company. And there's hope.

Are You Getting In Your Own Way?

We recently had a client team open up with the company’s owner, Susan, about the impact her inability to let go was having on them and the company. They let her know that they love her, and that they believe her desire to let go is real. But they also let her know that her constant appearances in their respective doorways—always demanding a number or an explanation—was keeping them from doing their jobs. And that was keeping them from delivering the growth and profit she wants.

As all of us do at one time or another, Susan was getting in her own way.

To her credit, she admitted that letting go is really hard for her. For the past 20 years she’s known every number and made every decision. She doesn’t know how to not do that.

What Information Do You Need To Let You Let Go?

The company's weekly Scorecard gave Susan high-level data, but she was used to much more detail and didn’t know how to let go without it.

To help her with this, we cleared some space on the whiteboard and began building what we called “Susan’s Let-Go List.” We just started asking her what information she needs to see and how often she needs to see it in order to feel confident that things are OK. When we were done, we had list of about 15 reports she needs to see and how often (weekly, monthly, etc.) she needs to see each one. It’s her newly-appointed Integrator’s job to make sure that happens.

Susan promised the team that if they get her that information on that schedule, and if the numbers are good, she’ll start letting go and staying out of their hair. Everyone knows she’ll break that promise a few times. But it’s getting better. And because she and her Integrator are having regular Same-Page meetings, she has a place to go for an answer when a number is off-track—other than straight into the office of the person who owns it. Disruptions are diminishing. Her team is able to stay focused on moving the company forward.

Letting Go Is A Journey

This kind of behavior change is a journey, not an event. No matter how much you want to let go, it’s really hard for many owners and visionaries to do. It won’t happen overnight, but a really good “Let Go List” will help you get started.