Sometimes solutions come much more easily than you think. As leaders, it’s easy to feel that every problem that comes to you seeks a solution. Often that is a position you have chosen — a culture you have encouraged — and yet it is not what you need to do at all.
When you lead a team, it’s a very natural tendency to want to show you’re worth it. That your elevated position is deserved, for the expertise you bring to the show. And yet you are wrong.
The best leaders appreciate the reason they are in the team. It’s not their super-skilful capacity to know all the ins and outs of the team’s business. It’s not to be the top problem-solver around the place.
It’s different to that. It’s about being an effective leader.
It’s about making your life much easier, by being kinder to yourself and minimising the pressure on you, by leveraging your leadership skills to get the best from those around you.
For leadership is a people skill, not an expertise skill. In fact, showing your expertise in the area where you work is a major fail. It stops you being effective as a leader and drags you into the weeds of the detail, when your role is to rise well above that.
Of course, there will be crises (though, if you handle them right, you should have much less of those — another article!), where you need to get your hands dirty.
But your true leadership role is that of enabling every one of your people to realise their own potential, in whatever way you can. Being kind, supportive, encouraging and, yes, challenging to them, giving them the permission to become their own best in a culture where risk is encouraged.
Not fixing everything.
Using your coaching skills of curious questioning and listening, and then doing more of the same until they find a takeaway action step, and you will be well on your way. So will your people, energised, encouraged and feeling great that they found a way. They found their way.
All you did was keep their plates spinning.
A lot less hassle for you — and hugely confidence-building for them.
Martin Haworth is a leadership coach, trainer and writer. As a leader, he loved to be in the conversation with his people, listening as much as talking, helping them grow. He lives in Gloucester, England and Zooms extensively as a Leadership Trainer and Coach. Martin is currently working on his next unique program, ‘The Kind Leader’.