The Art of Letting Go

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Dec 11, 2012 | Blog

Are you a leader who can let go?

Writing, rewriting and editing this book with a team of knowledge philanthropists has completely tested my ability to “let go.” I’ve had to have a willingness to be vulnerable, and an openness to listen to criticism I actually didn’t really want to hear. All in a quest for excellence. The following is an excerpt from The Abundant Not-for-Profit that highlights the importance of letting go:

The executive director has to be able to delegate effectively in order to build a team of knowledge philanthropists. How does an executive director involve others in getting all the work done? How do these leaders know when to delegate? And how much to delegate? And how does an executive director set parameters and monitor progress?

This means the executive director must have the ability to let go. He must be willing to give up control of the way the work is done, although it is important for him to have high expectations of an excellent outcome. A people lens executive director acknowledges the fact others can actually do the work as well as he can, even if the work is done differently. This is where letting go begins.

In contrast, some knowledge philanthropists tell stories of working with executive directors who feel compelled to make every decision about every detail. Knowledge philanthropists and salaried employees tell us how difficult this can be and how devaluing they find the process – when the executive director steps in to make decisions on details that are inappropriate for him to make. This does not work in a people lens culture. Instead, leaders have to be able to let go of the detail in a responsible way.

What do you find most difficult about letting go?


More than a decade in the making, The Abundant Not-for-Profit will allow you to exponentially increase your impact while building long term organizational sustainability. Sign up today to receive exclusive content, special discounts – and be the first to know when the book is released.

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Our mission is to transform not-for-profit organizations by convening, connecting, and equipping leaders to lift organizational capacity. Every client leaves our programs with resources to excel in their role and grow the impact of their organization.

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