Have you ever had a meeting where one of your team shared the impact of something you’d done or said and you thought, “wow, that’s not what I had intended at all.”? Can’t think of a single instance? Let me see if I can help jog your memory.
- An employee comes to you with a question and, rather than engaging their supervisor, you provide a response. The supervisor then, if you are lucky, shares with you how they felt undermined by this.
- In a meeting you either offer the first solution, or interject early in the conversation supporting an idea. After the meeting a participant (or participants) approach you, if you are lucky, to let you know that you stemmed the discussion by jumping in.
- Your boss asks you to work on a new concept or project. Rather than engaging your team, you either work on it yourself or simply ask your team for specific inputs. When the concept or project gets presented, you discover that many of your team members have experience and/or interest that could have influenced the end product.
If that’s not what you intended, then what happened? Let me suggest this. In the early stages of your career, you are taught, rewarded and recognized for your ability to get things done. Then you become a manager and you try to figure out how to get things done through others. But, somewhere along the way, you begin to make the shift from manager to leader. As a leader, your role shifts from having all the answers to asking the right questions. It becomes a place of fostering and developing the capabilities of those around you.
As leaders, it is our responsibility to hire, train and develop top talent. We need to understand what the capabilities and interests are for our employees and then we need to make opportunities to stretch them toward their potential. While things may not get done as quickly as if you’d done it yourself, or in the way that you would have done it, your team will learn invaluable lessons that will help them in their continued development.
Please share your stories of when you’ve gotten out of the way or when a leader has gotten out of the way for you.