Mary Jo Asmus recently wrote a great piece called A leader fills the spaces, in which she asserts that strong leaders take action whenever they see:
- A leadership void — no one stepping up to take responsibility
- Damaged or broken relationships
- Lapses in ethics or integrity
- Team members who are suffering
It’s great advice — and a great reminder that I, as a leader, don’t have the option of sitting back when something is missing within my team.
For me, however, a big temptation is simply to say “Step aside — I’ll do it.” A task has to be done quickly, and with my years of experience it’s easier just to do the task than to try and explain to others how to do it.
Yet I know, and I know that Mary Jo agrees, that “I’ll do it” is a recipe for trouble. It can, and usually does, bring on:
- Resentment: I resent the team members for causing me to take on extra work; they resent me for usurping their responsibilities.
- Stifled creativity: I rob my team members of the opportunity to discover the best approaches — approaches that very possibly would be better than the one I’d take.
- Lost confidence: If I act like I can do the job better, I send the message that my team can’t do it well. No encouragement or reassurance from me will drown out that hurtful message.
- Burnout: If I take on too much work I’ll become exhausted and unable to lead at all.
So instead of grabbing the reins, I work at getting the right people to do the right things. I can listen, I can offer advice, I can encourage, I can foster communication. When I do, the team works harmoniously and effectively.
Have you faced the temptation to say “I’ll do it”? If so, what happened? What insights did you gain?