Helping you mobilise your inner resources to achieve your dreams

Moving up? For goodness’ sake let go

A topic I frequently hear raised in career coaching and leadership coaching sessions is about the boss that wants to do your job. Just as there are different managerial tiers within organisations, so too are there different levels of thinking required. Consider the diagram below – a common tool in psychometric testing – in terms of where you believe your bosses’ energy needs to be directed, and where other managers, especially those people you manage, need to devote their time and effort.


Where should different managerial levels devote their time?

Looks easy, doesn’t it? I often use this visual in my executive coaching and management coaching sessions. Much depends on the seniority of the manager. Board level? Directors should devote their time, almost exclusively, to devising strategy. Senior Managers should balance their time devising strategy with implementation of strategy. Middle managers should balance their time between strategy implementation and operations. Junior managers should devote their time to operational tactics:


Whilst it is easy for us, intellectually, to grasp how different managerial levels map to levels on this model, what often happens in organisations is that managers, as we are promoted, continue to devote our time and effort to tactics. After all, this is the area we are good at – the very reason why we were promoted.
Keeping hold of what we did at the level below causes many problems. Having worked with organisations where managers are promoted on technical merit, sometimes they continue with “Case Work” or whatever the organisational equivalent, and allocate a percentage of their time to leading. At the very top, the organisation becomes a rudderless juggernaut.

So the challenge, when progressing emotional intelligence, becomes to let go of the things we are good at, and probably enjoy doing, to devote time and effort to new areas that take us away from our ‘comfort zone’, to place more emphasis on leading rather than managing.

Levels of thinking and you
Now think again about the pyramid. Go on, be honest. If you were to mark where you actually spend most of your time and energy, what questions might it prompt for you about where you currently devote your energy? If you think your current levels are out of balance, and you’d benefit from executive coaching or leadership coaching, contact me on 01302 220221.


  1. Hi Angela,
    Great post and a good reminder of just how seductive it can be to hang on to what got us where we are today! Great leaders recognise that letting go is fundamental to being successful in their role and that their focus needs to be on creating the environment and space for their team to succeed. Hard for the team to do that if you spend too much energy and attention doing their work!

    • angelasabin

      Hi Arlene,
      Thanks for your comments – I agree completely,

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