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Welcome to Merge's Monthly Mega Minute - a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.

This month’s Mega Minute is actually from the archives – going way back to April 2008. What brought it front and centre to my mind is a recent conversation I had with a senior leader who I had been working with, one-on-one, in a client organization. I asked him to tell me how he thought he had grown as a leader over the six months we had been working together. His answer: “I’ve come to realize how important it is to get the right foundation in place, and then let go, and trust that my people will do what I know they are capable of doing.”

Invest in the right equipment, and then trust that it will do what it is supposed to

A few weeks ago, I went zip-lining. For those of you who don’t know, zip-lining is an outdoor adventure activity where you “zip” over tree-tops and valleys at high-speed, harnessed to a pulley on a stainless steel cable. Over the course of a morning, I completed eight zip-lines varying from 30 to 300 feet from the ground in elevation and from 100 to 750 feet in length. I loved it!

However, one thirty-something participant was clearly afraid of heights, and he struggled to overcome his fear as he completed the first and second zips. Because he was so frightened, he stiffened his arms and gripped on to the pulley for dear life, and inadvertently made the journey harder, while also increasing his likelihood of injury. I listened as the instructor tried to coach him in the correct technique. “Trust in your equipment,” said the instructor. “You know that this cable is certified to hold five thousand pounds and you only weigh less than two hundred. You know that there are three independent galvanized steel safety clips holding you to the pulley and that you and I check each one before you step off the launching pad. You know how to turn the pulley so that you are facing in the right direction.” He paused for effect. “You’ve done everything to ensure that your equipment will work for you. Now just trust your equipment.”

If you are a leader, then your people are your most fundamental equipment. But are you able to let go and just trust them? You know they have the skills and the training they need. You’ve established checks and balances to ensure that nothing significant will go wrong. You’ve set the direction and pace for your department.

But is your fear causing you to hold on tightly instead of letting go? Are your individual insecurities causing you to micro-manage your people, thus making it hard for them, and eventually setting them up to fail? If you’ve done everything to ensure that your people will do the right things at the right time, efficiently and profitably, then let go and just trust them to do a good job.

Postscript: as the morning progressed, the scared zip-liner’s confidence and ability increased. At the end of the course, they gave him the “Most-Improved Zip-Liner” award!

So? Are you trusting your most important equipment – your people? Or are you allowing your own fears to micro-manage them into disengagement and frustration? I don’t actually expect you to publicly answer here on the blog if you’re in the latter category, but I’d love to hear about your second-hand experiences and what you’ve observed. Please share your insights directly on the blog at

In The Globe and Mail: how to display true empathy in the workplace

  • Empathy is a key workplace skill, yet harder in remote working situations.  Merge’s latest column in The Globe gives you four powerful ways to be more empathetic, in any workplace environment.  Read: How to display true empathy in the workplace

Four principles for creating an effective hybrid workplace culture in The Globe and Mail

Turning Managers into Leaders

That Merge mentors high-potential leaders, one-on-one?

As a leader, you know you're capable of getting things done; after all you have a proven track record that speaks for itself! But, things just aren't falling into place the way they normally do! At times like these, what you really need is an independent perspective to support you as you assess specific issues and determine your options and consequences. Someone who really "gets" what you are dealing with, but isn’t constrained by any organizational "baggage".  And if you’re in the C-suite, then you already know that it can get lonely at the top! 

This is exactly where Merge can help.  In just the last 12 months, she has worked one-on-one with over 50 leaders, from President to team leader, in a variety of organizations, to help them gain insights into and resolve their unique leadership challenges. If you’d like to learn more, then visit our website to get a better idea of Merge's approach.  And if you’d like to have a conversation about whether one-on-one mentoring may be right for you, schedule a confidential video meeting with Merge. 

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