If it is on your farm, you are responsible. If it is on their farm, leave it alone and move back to your farm. Your farm includes your job description, your goals, your emotions, your mindset and your energy. Their farm is about their job description, goals, problems, communication and their energy.
What are you really responsible for? Why do you think that you have to own the opinions, emotions and problems of others? We as humans struggle with this concept because things are not always right or wrong or black or white. Sometimes we just want to help and things get a bit fuzzy.
Psychologists would call this good boundaries. HR directors call this a job description. Executives call it focus. Managers call it a strategy.
A leader needs to understand what to own and how to influence. Vision, strategy, succession, financial success, sales and engagement are all things you can own. You cannot own this for other people, yet you do have the opportunity to influence others. Their response or behavior is not something you can own.
What is on your farm? Do you need to get off of someone else’s farm?
How do you tell if you are on someone else’s farm? Here are a few questions to evaluate:
1.) Are You Trying To Change Someone?: If you have been asked to change someone or asked to get in the middle of a relationship then there is a good chance that you are on someone else’s farm. You cannot change someone. You CAN influence and engage in a relationship with someone. People change over time, but you can’t change people over time.
2.) Are You The Messiah? Your team has asked you to solve all their problems instead of working as a team to solve them together. Sorry, you are on their farm and not tending your farm. Move back to yours and work the problem together.
3.) Are You Carrying Someone Else’s Job? This is about enabling the behavior that you want to see improved. This is about not confronting performance issues. This is about overly advocating for someone because you want them to like you.
4.) Are you saying “Yes” all the time? Saying “yes” all the time could be a symptom of struggling to maintain and develop your farm. In fact, you may be losing the respect of others each and every time you say ‘yes’. Try instead to say, “I would be happy to do that, but it means letting go of another project. I desire to perform my best at these core responsibilities. Thank you for asking, but I must say no.”
Remember a well differentiated leader knows where they start and stop and where another person begins and ends. It may feel productive to take on anther’s emotions and core responsibilities, yet in actuality you are hindering their growth and stifling yours.
Here are a couple of books that I recommend around this topic:
Boundaries by Henry Cloud
Favorite Quote: “You need some fences to keep his problems out of your yard and in his, where they belong.”
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Favorite Quote: “When we don’t set clear boundaries in our lives we can end up imprisoned by the limits others have on us. When we have clear boundaries, on the other hand, we are free to select from the whole area or range of options that we have deliberately chosen to explore.”
Get off their farm and own your farm. It needs tending after all.