Walking into the wards today, I was met with my new client who had a full blown depression complicated by a social anxiety disorder. A former high performing executive in the actuarial department of an Insurance firm, he answered doubtfully as I went through the simple math exercises in the mini mental exam.

Having depression combined with a social anxiety disorder is bad enough…yet is a doubly hard and heart-wrenching for someone who is head of the family, a provider for his brothers & sisters, the head for all big strategic decisions in their family corporation. His sense of self was shaken—his confidence and self-esteem plummeting, he questioned why he was even alive.

The blessings in all this were his family and staff who were allying around him: picking up the slack that he single-handedly carried all those years.  Little sister now took charge of running the parent’s house and taking all kids to school, eldest brother took over the chairmanship of the family corporation, department supervisors and staff made all the business plans for the department. The condition thankfully pried off his tight grip, control freak grip on life. And, that letting go is how he is going to be saved.

As a leader, when you are able to distribute power and  decision-making, and allow other people to shine,  you inspire—-develop leadership gravitas. Rather than burn out from micro-managing projects–delegate based on employee’s skill and inclinations. Rather than developing and implementing projects on your own, develop and invest in  key relationships within and above your management level. Instead of doing all the work , re-assign it and provide value by mentoring to elevate staff competence. While the saying goes ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’, in high stakes management, collaboration is the only way to survive. It is impossible to be, know, and do all projects and expect to have a balanced, happy, and fulfilling life.

Sometimes, it does take a crisis to grow into the leaders we are supposed to be.