A leader recently confided in me that he returned from a much-needed vacation to find that his business had struggled during his absence. “The place fell apart without me!” I asked if he was okay with that, and he smiled slightly and said, “Well, they need me.”

Leaders need to answer one question: Do you want to see the business work without you or because of you?


You are the Lid on Your Business

The Law of the Lid from John Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” states, leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness. Suppose you are not developing your leadership capabilities and the leadership capabilities of the people on your team. In that case, you are placing a lid on the effectiveness of your team and your business.

It takes a secure leader to be okay with seeing the business work without you, but the security is easily developed with the following three-step process.


Three Steps to Seeing It Work Without You

#1 – Let go! Wait! What? That sounds a little scary. You let go at first while you are watching. Letting go means empowering your team members to perform their jobs without a lot of input from you.

The key to empowering others is to set them up for success. Have you fully equipped your team members with the skills and tools to do their job at a high level? Are you developing them as leaders, whether they have a title or not?

The leader that wants to see it work because of them will have trouble letting go. They may lean toward micromanagement which can cause the people on their team to feel they are not trusted to do their jobs without help or supervision.


#2 – Let Them Lead! Have you communicated that you expect each person to develop influence to lead from wherever they are in the organization? Are they leading (influencing) their peers, so teamwork and collaboration are growing? Are they leading (influencing) up, so they make your job easier by lightening your load? Are they expanding their influence by delivering the results the organization is expecting?

For the leader who wants to see it work because of them, all the influence falls on the leader, not within the team members. These are “Lonely at the top” leaders who tend to lead alone and don’t invite others to the leadership table.


#3 – Coaching-up & Coaching-through. When you “let go” and “let them lead,” you will begin to observe how they think and how they act in the process of doing their jobs. Seeing the job process will present the leader with coaching moments to help fine-tune and further develop the skills of the people on their team. You can’t just train them and set them free if you hope for them to grow and develop when a business changes as fast as it is changing today. Coaching each person through the challenges and setbacks they face when doing their work leads to a positive high-performance culture.

If you want to be the kind of leader who wants to see their business run without them, it will require intentional actions to prepare your team for when you are not there. When you raise the lid for everyone on your team, you establish a leadership culture that can thrive whether you are present or away.


Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.