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One of the most difficult adjustments a new manager faces is letting go. A manager who has been promoted because he or she has done an especially good job executing projects often finds working through subordinates a strange and different world. Suddenly it is less important to be your old nit-picking,detail-oriented self -and more important to learn how to effectively coordinate what may be a quietly rebellious group of independent thinkers.

Letting your subordinates make a few of their own mistakes is crucial to their development and feelings of self-worth. In trying their own, possibly different solutions, everyone gains knowledge and experience which can be helpful to both you and your company in the future. And, empowered in this manner,your people will feel that they have more of a say in the overall direction of the team. At that point they may assume a degree of ownership and a heightened desire for its success.

If the freedom which you have delegated to them leads to noteworthy achievements, everyone benefits from proof that your team is capable of innovative, worthwhile ideas. You look good, and you have gained valuable experience as a manager.

Of course, you need to stick close enough to your people to keep errors from becoming major disasters. Learning to apply just the right degree of oversight to each individual, without seeming overbearing or controlling,can be a time-consuming, trial-and-error experience. It isnt easy, but thats why you are there. Working with and from within your group, as opposed to simply spouting orders and expecting mindless obedience, will help you mature as an effective leader.

Making mistakes should not be feared. As Joseph Conrad said, Only those who do nothing …make no mistakes. The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one, Elbert Hubbard also points out. But Ronald Reagan said it best: What should happen when you make a mistake is this: You take your knocks, you learn your lessons, and then you move on.

A scientist who worked with Joseph C. Wilson, president of Xerox during the early development of its innovative copying process, said this: A great morale booster for us was the fact that Joe Wilson consistently refrained from admonishing or blaming anyone, and took the stand that mistakes were made and that they were honest mistakes. Joe was obviously disappointed by our results, but he was never bitter. If he had to take it on the chin from the directors, he was ready.

Encourage your team to admit their mistakes. When a failure does occur, carefully analyze what lead to it, but be tolerant and non-blameful. The purpose of such a discussion is to make better decisions, not to punish, intimidate or inhibit future decision-making. An understanding of a small error can be a direct path to greater successes.

Motivate your group to be creative, try new ideas and take action, including a few chances. Let them make mistakes. In doing so, your team will more fully develop its potential, highlighting your own capability to assume greater responsibility within your organization.

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