My oldest daughter just started high school. One of my temptations is to feel like my job is to rescue her from the perils that lie ahead. I cannot do her homework, keep her from being late to class or make a quality boy ask her to prom. However, I can empower her to take charge of her own life, fall and then rise again, like we as adults do.
Those that are leaders to employees can be tempted to feel the need to rescue their clients or their team just as I can with my own daughter. It is important to know whether or not you have crossed the line into rescuing or enabling.
Manfred Kets De Vries in his book “Mindful Leadership Coaching” speaks of this challenge: “rescuing never results in permanent solutions for people.”
Leaders your job is to empower, inspire and engage your team, not rescue them from the challenges that lie ahead.
Here are a few questions to help you evaluate whether or not you are a rescuer:
1.) Do you know how to say “No”?
2.) Do you show them how to do it and then just do it for them?
3.) Are you able to wait for them to do it before you enter in and complete it yourself?
4.) Do you find yourself thinking about your team too much and cannot detach from their outcome?
5.) Do you keep giving your employees 30 more days to finally improve performance before you have that difficult conversation?
If you find that you consistently rescue, consider the following recommendations:
First, what outcome do you wish to create for your people? In other words, think of the last chapter of the book that is being written about your team or business? How do you want it to end?
Second, are you delegating consistently with strong feedback? Chances are if you are delegating well and giving feedback you are empowering. It is common for leaders to hold technical knowledge and skill vs. passing it along to others to build a strong succession platform.
Thirdly, just because someone else’s process or method is different does not mean that it will not create a quality outcome. Consider the list of negotiables and non-negotiables. Can differentness be ok?
Your team does not need you to rescue. It needs you to inspire, be decisive and collaborate effectively. If you rescue you are not saving anyone, you are actually causing the ship to sink.