One of the scariest steps in parents' lives is when they first hand over their baby to someone else to care for; whether it's their Mum, or other family member; a close friend; or a trained professional; parents will be plagued with all the what-ifs relating to what could go wrong.
I remember my sister's son and his partner leaving their eldest with her for the first time; so they could go out alone after more tha 12 months. They turned up at my sister's house with a car full of stuff, and pages of instructions on how to get him to go to sleep; what to do if this happens, and what to do if that happens. One of these instructions included a specific music track that had to be played otherwise the baby would purportedly never go to sleep.
They went out and left their baby with my sister. She largely ignored their instructions and instead drew on her experience and intuition as a mother. Despite the few phone calls through the evening to check everything was OK; the parents had some time on their own, and the baby was able to sleep without the special music track being played, and was handed back unharmed at the end of the evening.
Once that step was taken and there were no ill effects of relinquishing some control, the evenings out became more frequent and eventually the parents were able to laugh at how ridiculous it was to have believed that their baby would only go to sleep to a particular music track.
So, what's this got to do with business? Everything.
For business owners and leaders, their business, their team, their project... is their baby. Handing this over to someone else, or even just relinquishing some control is scary!
As a business owner or leader you have worked hard to build something; often risking your own family's security to make it work. Your reputation, livelihood, and financial sustainability is on the line. Trusting someone else to care for your baby can be a very daunting prospect.
Because of the importance of this decision, the planning process for taking this step is critical; of which, managing your mind-set is the most important.
First are the myths that hold back business owners and leaders from taking the plunge:
Myth 1: They need to care about your 'baby' as much as you do.
This is NEVER going to happen. Just like with your human baby, no-one could possibly love your baby as much as you do. This doesn't mean they won't care for your baby and keep it safe. But their love is unlikely to be to the same level of unconditional, and you have to accept this as a key point.
Myth 2: They have to use the same method of caring for your "baby" as you use, otherwise they will fail.
Just like each parent having a slightly different way of parenting, so too in business, other professionals will have a different way of managing clients, people and problems than you do. Different is not wrong. You need to trust the carer of your baby. If you don't think they have enough experience or can't be trusted, you shouldn't have engaged them for the task.
Myth 3: Your "baby" might come to love them more.
Of course the clients and people will come to like and respect their new carer. In fact, this is what you want to happen. Just because they build rapport doesn't mean it diminishes your worth. Sure, if you abandon your baby, then they will move on; but as long as you stay in the picture, while respecting the boundaries and allowing their carer to do their job, you will maintain a connection and continue to be respected and valued for your contributions.
Once you have mentally prepared for the prospect of handing over your baby, you need to choose a suitable candidate. The right person will:
Be aligned with your personal and business values, and the culture of your team.
Have a depth of experience you can trust, which they can actually demonstrate (not just talk about). In fact, if possible, they should be more experienced and more skilled than you.
Be someone you are comfortable working with. You have to like this person, and feel that you can be direct and honest with them. You should not feel intimidated, controlled, or bamboozled. Communication lines should be clear and the respect mutual.
Sufficiently invested. Bearing in mind that the new carer will never love your baby as much as you; you should find other ways to keep them engaged and invested in ensuring that your baby is properly cared for.
So, just like with your human baby, you're not just going to hand it over and walk away; you will initially give them the opportunity to care for your baby for short periods of time, keeping an eye on what's happening without interfering, but by checking every so often that everything is OK. This builds trust. You can start to trust them and they will feel trusted.
Gradually, you will extend the time you leave the baby with them until you are comfortable that the path they are on is safe. Even then, you will make sure that you are there to support them and take over when needed. Sometimes they could do with a break, so being sensitive to their needs too is important.