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The Case for Laissez-faire Management 

Sharon Owens Robustelli 

As I continue to refine our cross functional team, I’m reminded of not just the areas of which I am in charge, but also those of which I am not. In doing so, I am compelled to embrace a laissez-faire style of management. By this I don’t mean to say let everyone do whatever they please, but instead allow them to get the job done in the way that is most comfortable for them. The sticky wicket there is that it means I first must trust in my own ability to select the right individuals for their respective roles. And if I can do that, the hope is that I can more easily resist the urge to pick every nit that isn’t identical to my own.  


In this case, I am reminded of a manager who once called me to explain why I shouldn’t have used the word "frankly" in an email to a prospective client when explaining why we were the ideal choice for their business. Frankly, we were and I saw no harm in respectfully stating the fact. This particular manager made a habit of “coaching” in this manner when in most cases, the only offense had been that he expected everyone to think and act as he did. 


In an effort to avoid a similar Sisyphean existence, I keep top-of-mind that the aim isn’t to create a firm filled with "mini-me"s. If nothing else, that would be extremely limiting. So, while a code of conduct, ethics, and a strong business acumen is a must, within that there is great latitude for the individual to shine their own light and stand in their own power. After all, there’s such beauty and grace in that moment when you understand and embrace another’s perspective and see what makes them tick. Fittingly, it’s called enlightenment and in business as in life, it makes it all worthwhile. 

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