Talent rises to the surface! If you’re an expert at what you do, it’s only natural to want to leverage your skills in the workplace. This goes double for anyone in a leadership role. Leaders can and should feel encouraged to support their teams when they need help.
But what happens when this goes wrong?
Good intentions can stunt the growth of a team. Well-meaning but overbearing parents can keep their children from learning critical skills, and the same goes for leaders that operate the same way. If a leader is approached by another member of the company that needs assistance, it can be tempting for them to just help out. After all, leaders are expected to be authorities on the workings of the company.
Whether the problem is an issue with another employee, a project gone wrong, or a workload issue, leaders might find it more convenient to just address it themselves. Even if it generates more work for them, they might try to fix these problems, whether because they feel that it’s expected of them or because they feel like they can ensure that it gets done correctly. In some cases, these leaders take on problems because of their own standards for work and not because an employee asked.
Whatever the reason, the end result of this behavior is the degradation of employees and their relationships with leaders. By steamrolling those under them, leaders stress themselves out while also breeding resentment. No employee wants to feel like their boss isn’t satisfied with their work, which goes double when said boss won’t give them feedback. Adversity is inevitable in any organization, and it comes down to leaders to ensure that their teams are well-equipped to tackle it and grow as individuals.
The best way for leaders to change their behavior is to acknowledge that they should be guiding and mentoring, not managing. As the old proverb goes, teaching a man to fish goes a really long way. And the first and easiest way for a leader to change is by letting go of the issues they feel compelled to manage. A good leader trusts their employees to make correct decisions without their input while still being available as a resource in case things go wrong.
And when they do, a leader should grant employees the opportunities to try to respond to an issue or crisis. If it becomes necessary to talk with an employee, give constructive feedback and help them figure out the next steps. There’s a lot to be said about good feedback, to the point where it warrants an entirely different article, but balking at difficult conversations hurts the business and the employee alike.
Just because leaders shouldn’t directly solve problems for their employees doesn’t mean they should give up their willingness to help out. Quite the opposite, in fact! It’s just that support takes a different form once leaders reevaluate their priorities and dedicate themselves to fostering the growth of their team.