Gain Traction – Lose Control

This is the story that started it all. It’s the birthplace of my leadership and desire to grow. The place where people and systems collided – the center of my greatest paradigm shift.


 I learned to “lose” control and everything got better.


About 10 years ago I was the General Manager of a small niche manufacturing company. The prior 4 years had been tough. In 2003 we lost all business from our largest customer and revenue was cut in half. For 4 long years we struggled to eke out a profit. Truth be told there wasn’t much of a business to work with.


We were a custom shop with no sales, quality or even engineering departments, but we had a few Navy jobs that kept us afloat while I began to build the business one department at a time. I had literal blood, sweat and tears in that business. After 4 long years we had a rough sales process, a new catalog based product design, ISO management system and some manufacturing and inventory controls in place. We were acquiring new customers and revenue was growing.


But as I sat at my desk, I found myself with my head in my hands.


Instead of finally hitting critical mass, I found myself frustrated with late deliveries, growing inventories, and inexcusable overtime costs. To top it all off there was a line outside my office door. My team – waiting for me to give them direction or solve their problem. Why couldn’t they take some initiative? Why was I the only one pulling the sled? 


At least sales were up. My one high performing manager seemed to be enthusiastically bringing in the business. He wasn’t out there in that line, waiting for me to do his job. Nope! As I turned my head to look out of my office window, there he was. In the parking lot.


Unaware that I was watching as he began to pour his bottle of vodka into a coffee mug and partake.


It was only 10 in the morning and in that instant, this imperfect leader hit bottom. Time for some serious soul searching. Many things were learned in that valley but the most important was this imperfect insight.

My need to control was incompatible with a scaling business.

The longer I believed that someone else couldn’t possibly care as much as me about the things I had built, the more difficult it was becoming to grow. The line out the door was my fault. They had to run everything through me. I was the choke point, the chief discourager, a bully. I had to change and so I learned to let go and invest in a team. In it’s simplest form, I started to lead others instead of control them.


Feel like you are losing control? How tight are you squeezing? Turn from blaming your team and consider how much authority you’ve actually shared. You know it’s the right amount when it feels a bit uncomfortable for you but the team is grinning ear to ear. Gain traction in your business. Lose control.

A System to Safeguard us from our imperfections…


EOS is designed to encourage us to let go. But even better, it also ensures us that when we do, someone or something will be there to catch us!


Applicable EOS tools:

The Accountability Chart ( video ) ( PDF ) Defined Roles = Less need for Control

Scorecard ( PDF ) The data never lies = Trust Builder

Level 10 Meeting ( video ) ( PDF ) Solving issues together helps the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Better Communication!


Want help applying the practical tools above? Email me for a free phone consultation at  or call me at 717.502.2084.