Give It Up. Relinquish Control and Be Consistent

Transitioning People Through Constant Change

In this series of posts I am exploring the Give It Up model in which we move away from the command and control of manager to the delegation and trust of true leaders. 


Relinquish control

Employees want clear direction from leadership but they also want freedom accompanied by loose guidelines and direction. Therefore, leaders need to relinquish control. Distribution of power throughout the organization and reliance on decision-making from those closest to the action is of extreme importance.

As I have mentioned earlier, many leaders find it hard to relinquish control because they fear they are giving up their power; they are risk adverse and they don't trust their employees to do the job as well as they would do it.

The idea of relinquishing control is perceived as a threat. This is when we get the amygdala hijack. This was a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence.

We have two amygdala, one on each side of the brain. Their job is to detect fear and prepare the body for a response. The results include increased heart rate, sweaty palms, and shallow breathing. 

However, in the throes of the hijack, we also lose perspective. Even if we can usually see different perspectives, we now only see black and white. ‘I’m right, and you are wrong.’ The amygdala prepares us for flight or fight and we, therefore, react before we can reason.

Leaders who can’t relinquish control because they have been hijacked need support. They should seek out a coach who can help them on their journey. The coach can accompany them on the small steps that we looked at earlier. 

When control is successfully relinquished, it can rewire the brain and reduce the fear. 

Every small step forward needs to be acknowledged.

Leaders need opportunities and interventions that give them the chance to trial new behaviors in a safe environment. They should be allowed to take the ‘risk’ of doing something uncomfortably new and succeeding at it. Leaders need to seek out the necessary support for these opportunities.

When the new behaviors or actions are acknowledged and rewarded, the more comfortable the brain will feel about the new situation.


Some leaders give up control only to rein it back in when a crisis occurs. Giving up control must be consistent. Instead of reining in control as soon as a crisis is perceived, the leader should create a renewed focus of utilising the strengths of the people around them.

 Gather the team together and determine how best to play the game and overcome the crisis. 
Consistency is the key to good leadership. This means acting consistently, treating people consistently, and having consistent expectations. To do this, leaders will often need a high degree of self-awareness and self-management. When leaders are consistent, employees feel they will be fairly treated and this builds trust.

Inconsistency leads to mistrust, doubt, confusion, and disengagement.

Game score

Winning teams don’t do great things because they were told to. They have the power to make great things happen. They are free to experiment, create and innovate.

In subsequent posts in this series I will be exploring the additional elements of the Give It Up model.

Karen FerrisComment