Leaders Can Help More by Helping Less

Recently as I was delivering a keynote about leaders sharing their failures one person from the audience asked me mine. I shared some from my blog I wrote a couple years ago, Click here — “When good intentions and leadership behavior don’t always line up”.

Thinking about it deeper, I started to focus on my traits I do that I am unaware of. This does not result in visible failures, but it prevents my team from growing and moving forward. I have a tendency to jump in at the first moment my team runs into a problem, struggle, or comes to a standstill, to rescue. I didn’t jump in because I didn’t think they could do it; I thought I was being helpful. This cheats them of the opportunity to solve for themselves. They deserve this opportunity and the recognition for doing so.

Going forward, I am going to use the same strategy I used when I was a consultant. I will wait until I am requested for help. Once requested, before I start inserting myself I will work with my team to create the exit strategy. In consulting, it lets me and the client agree on when I can roll away and they can begin doing it for themselves. Doing this keeps the responsibility on the team. You exit, they get the responsibility for the outcome.

As a leader, it is important to get feedback from your team on how you are performing in your responsibility to serve and grow them. This way you get direct feedback on your most important responsibility — growing your people. I find the feedback I get from them is at least as or more important feedback than I get from my leader. My leader will only see me a fraction of the time I spend with them. For me to grow completely, I need feedback from all angles and perspectives.

I would like to leave you with 4 things:

  1. Avoid jumping in to save the day. Give your team space to solve the problem on their own.
  2. Once asked to help, begin co-creating your exit strategy with them. This way you do not overstay and solve it for them. This keeps the responsibility, growth opportunity, and outcome with the team.
  3. Share your failures and learnings with the team. They will learn that you were successful not because you avoided mistakes or failures, rather you embraced them and learned from it.
  4. Regularly ask your team for feedback on how you can better grow and serve them. Then act on it!

Every keystroke is precious so I will end here. Watch my vlog below:


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