Letting Go Is Hard to Do But Necessary For New Leaders

by Marcia Zidle, Featured Contributor

DID YOU KNOW that nearly half of all new leaders fail in the first 18 months? Many of them were surprised to discover that what high wire let gogot them there — from working nonstop to sweating the small stuff — isn’t enough to keep them there.

The Good News:

What it takes to be a high performing leader can be learned. Most leadership development programs focuses on what a new leader needs to acquire or build on: managerial skills such as delegation, team building, communication, performance coaching, etc.  However most don’t even touch on what the new leader has to let go of – those things that led to strong performance as individual contributors or team leaders that no longer serve them.

To Be An Effective Leader You Need To:

  1. Let go of insecurity.
    Remember, you were chosen for this job by people who thought you can do the job. Yes, you may feel insecure inside but outside you need to reflect self-confidence both in your presence and purpose, even if it doesn’t come naturally at first.
  2. Let go of being the Lone Ranger.
    You may have advanced here on your own, but now you are only as good as your team. If you have the right people with the right skills in the right positions, the right things will get done right.
  3. Let go of doing it all – all the time.
    This may have made you a superstar in your prior position but, at this new level with much more expectations, you’ll burn out. Break the cycle of activity addiction by doing the things that matter and have the most value in your job.
  4. Let go of being responsible for everything and everyone.
    Rather foster accountability for outcomes. It’s done by linking individual and team’s specific tasks and responsibilities with company priorities. You need to demonstrate the value and importance of what they do.
  5. 5. Let go of the urge to control everything.
    Micromanaging is a sure way to fail. It kills the spirit of competent and committed people. Morale goes down, people get disengaged and mediocrity sets in.
  6. Let go of being in the background.
    Like it or not, your days of being “low-profile” are over. When you’re a leader you act and speak on behalf of your team, department or organization. Become adept at influencing others whether peers, upper management and other key stakeholders.
  7. Let go of focusing just what’s on your plate.
    An innermost perspective may have served you in the past, but it won’t now. Lead with an outside-in view by understanding what’s is happening in both the internal and external environment. Don’t be a modern-day Rip Van Winkle waking up to a world you no longer recognize and manage.

 Smart Moves Tip:

Peak performers are often promoted to a managerial or leadership position and then left to sink or swim on their own. Therefore you must take charge of how you “show up-stand up-and deliver” as a leader. It requires you to add new abilities and let go of old ones that won’t serve you well in your new position.


Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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  1. All of these items are accurate. However, when a new leader assumes the first managerial assignment, he/she will probably have to retain one or two items IF the staff below is not yet ready to take over. Therefore, the first managerial task should be to train them and get them ready to do so up to the required standards, while recognizing that your eventual goal is to let these things go.

  2. I enjoyed your article Marcia. I like your writing approach..Making me laugh, while driving home an important point is a winning combination to me. I have been micromanaged by too many “newbies” who just wanted to make a name for themselves, and didn’t care what damage they did along the way. This article lists all of the things they did wrong.. make everything about them and treat us like idiots. Thanks for saying what needs to be said. Stop the controlling, it only shows us all how fearful and incompetent you are.