Set the finish line, not the route

by Rita Nguyen

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” ~General George Patton

I couldn’t agree more. I am a big believer in management setting up the finish line, and ensuring everyone knows where that is but letting your team determine the route to get there.

This is especially true in building technology. Giving the developers the ability to work through bumps, hiccups and bugs on their own will allow the teams to collectively move so much faster. If the leader needs to be there for every little snag, nothing is ever going to be pushed through. Bottlenecks are the death of rapid iteration. Yes, letting go of control is a little scary but if you’re doing your job right, you would have hired people smarter than you anyway. Trust them. Besides, no one likes a micro-manager and as a leader, don’t you get paid too much to just babysit?

That’s not to say that you can just step back and watch. This method of leadership only works if the managers are available to help and step in if/when necessary. I’m not sure what’s worse, a micro-manager or a totally disinterested one.

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