Great Leaders Aren't Pilots. They're Air Traffic Controllers.

Someone recently told me that as a leader, they felt like they were piloting an airplane through rough skies and everyone was depending on them to make it work.

I'll admit, I feel this way too sometimes, but I don't think the pilot seat is the right place for a founder to be.

Leaders are more like air traffic controllers.

Instead of flying a plane while their whole crew passively sits back and prays, a great leader should be sitting in the control tower, helping, guiding, and assisting their team. Each team member is piloting their own little piece of the business while the founder helps when needed and makes sure no two team members run over each other.

It's a subtle, important difference that comes down to control.

You can't be a great leader if you need to control everything. You'll never build up other leaders if you don't let people take an active role in their pieces of the business. Your team won't grow if you never let them screw up. Mistakes are a necessary part of growth, so as a leader, you have to have the courage to allow mistakes.

I'm getting to the point where more and more of my company is actively run by other people and it's a weird feeling. Giving up control and trusting other people is hard, but it's the only way forward.

When I started my business, I did literally everything. In a year, I've seen my sphere of control dwindle down to making key hires and answering a lot of emails. I'm essentially just making sure the right planes take off at the right time and nobody gets lost on the way in.

If you're a founder struggling with letting go of control, hit reply. I'd be happy to share what's worked for me and give you a few frameworks you can apply to your business.

Karl Hughes

Startups



Software Engineering



Leadership