Do you wonder why the folks that report to you rely on you to solve their problems? Probably because you always do. That is great if you are a parent or the star of a reality TV show called “Problem Solver”. But, as a leader having people rely on you to solve their problems creates a cycle of dependency. That isn’t leadership that is enabling bad behavior. Want to create leaders? Start with developing accountability
We are inundated with stimuli. With all the tweets, IM’s, emails, phone calls and “drop-ins” it is hard to think straight let alone get anything done. More often than not, we simply react to questions or issues that are brought to our attention. It is easier to do that than reflect and ask questions. But in order to develop leaders on our teams, we must stop doing for people and start expecting them to do. Let’s look at how to encourage your team to develop this muscle
John brings a problem to you. It is urgent and needs to be dealt with RIGHT NOW.
• Thank John for coming to you.
• Ask him “Why is this issue occurring?” Follow that up with one or two other why questions to get to the real issue
• Once the real issue is uncovered, ask him –
◦ ”What is the outcome you want?” or
◦ “What would success look like” or
◦ “What would happen if you did nothing”
• Finally, ask him
◦ “How would you make [the outcome he stated previously] happen? or
◦ What is the process you’d use to make that happen?
• Help him tweak the process/solution he suggested but unless people’s lives are in danger or some other safety issue could occur, do not give him the answer EVEN IF YOU KNOW IT.
The last thing you need to do is to encourage him to go out and implement his solution, even if you’re not 100% it will work.
Don’t shield the people on your team from failure. That is not going to help them grow or learn. Failure is one of the greatest tools for people to understand what to do and not to do. Failure avoidance only causes us to limit ourselves. It stifles our innovation and creativity.
Push the people on your team to implement their own solutions. Of course they should do their due diligence, but it’s critical that they are coming up with and implementing their ideas. Whether the solution is successful or not, they will learn. It will foster growth.
GIVING AWAY RESPONSIBILITY
Once people start implementing their own solutions and coming to you less to solve their problems, start giving them more responsibility or authority. This doesn’t mean that you should abdicate your role or stop overseeing things. Instead, it is recognizing their growth and rewarding them. As a leader, your primary roles are :
• Develop other leaders
• Ensure people understand the impact they have on gaining and retaining customers
The more you responsibility you can give to your team, the less they will rely on you to solve al their problems. This will allow you to focus on leading, finding innovative ways to serve your customers, or develop yourself.
As leaders, the worst thing that we can do for our teams is to solve all their problems for them. It makes them dependent on you and limits their growth.
How do you encourage accountability?
Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.
Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.