Leadership

In Charge vs. In Control

September 21, 2017

In Charge vs. In Control

Life can get complex. You find someone you like and start dating, which can sometimes lead to marriage. Perhaps you want to buy a home together, which means you need stuff to fill the house. So you add kids, and they need a lot of stuff. Then you purchase the dreaded minivan. Which means you can add another kid. And a dog. Congrats, you’ve reached what’s known as the ceiling of complexity.

This also applies as we grow in our careers. At FirstPerson, we describe it as everything you add to your to-do list that creates residual responsibilities and expectations. You complete a project, and congrats, you've added more to your plate. If you’re growing your team, fantastic! Here comes more responsibility.

And. And. And.

The things we add may be small at the time or even unnoticeable, but they’re always there. Over time, this residue builds up and adds complexity. We take on a lot. And things can get a whole lot more complex. If we're not careful, we can try to keep control of everything. To keep doing things the same way, which can lead to working more hours or less efficiently.

The challenge of being in control

When you attempt to be in control, you are requiring all that "stuff" to cross your desk so you make the decisions. But that attempt to be in control makes you a bottleneck. Things slow down or just don't happen. Your team gets confused and you take away the chance for them to contribute.

Giving up control

If you ask “What do I need to be in charge of?” you open the door to discovering a range of possibilities. You focus on the outcomes that need to occur, rather than the decisions that are made.

And you create an opportunity for someone else to be in control. We need to give up on the idea that you can be in control of everything. You can accomplish more when you utilize the strengths of others. At FirstPerson, we help others with this challenge through the delineation between being in control versus being in charge of projects or initiatives.

What it means to be in charge

When you are "in charge," you are the visionary of the project. You are providing a clear picture of what needs to occur without managing the day-to-day details. You are identifying the outcomes and results for your team, without defining how they will be accomplished. You are responsible for assembling and leading the project team, defining operations of a project, and appropriately allocating resources to accomplish the goals. In contrast, when you are "in control," you should allow the person (or persons) in charge to lead the execution of the vision.

To go from being in control to in charge, start by asking yourself what you have to do to get there. When you give up control, you can open the door to a range of possibilities and accomplish more.