1. Equip your team to make decisions.
The easiest and most efficient decisions are the ones you never have to make. You don’t have to make these decisions because you have equipped someone else with the art of making the call. Our goal as parents is to teach our children to make their own decisions, good ones. Why? Because it is inefficient and frustrating to have a forty-year-old living in your basement waiting for you to tell them what to do every day. Business is the same way, and in spite of how obvious it is we often hand a pile of decisions to someone on our team without first making sure they are adept in the art of making the call.
A major mistake on any team is to give the guy in charge the title of “chief fireman.” Their job is to put out all the fires by themselves – to make all of the decisions. This exhausts the leader and creates a serious workflow bottleneck. Often when someone starts a business, the owner decides on the quality and price of paper put in the copier, the type of coffee, and every other single detail. They are in charge, but very soon they are exhausted and the team has no power or dignity. There is a line forming at the owner’s desk to ask permission and direction on every single detail. This is a normal progression of any new business or team, but you must be quick to recognize this as a bad process and grow your people to make the call.
Steve Brown, a leadership teacher, talks about viewing this process with monkeys in mind. This is how he describes it: When a team member walks into your office with a problem, a decision that needs to be made, visualize them with a monkey standing on their shoulder. When the team member makes the statement “We have a problem,” you should visualize that monkey jumping from their shoulder onto the center of your desk. So if your team drops by your office all day long and leaves you their monkeys, you’ll soon be running a zoo. The responsible move as a leader who truly cares about your people, is to ensure when your team member leaves your office they take their monkey with them.
2. Don’t just hand out solutions to your team’s problems; help them find their own solution.
We have a highly collaborative style, and as leaders our job is to help our people be successful, so we don’t want to shut people down when they need help. But as we’re talking through a problem, we shouldn’t be as concerned with the solution as we are growing the person in the process. The leader should be helping them think through the situation, so they’ll be more equipped and confident to handle issues in the future. Effective leaders essentially try to work themselves out of a job. Every time we solve problems others could solve, we are stealing a growth opportunity and weakening our team.
The key is to recognize those teachable moments and not rush past them. Fight the temptation to simply tell them what to do and move on. If you do that, you’re giving a man a fish instead of teaching him to fish. They’ll be back tomorrow with a new monkey, so you aren’t saving yourself any time and aren’t helping them grow either. That’s a poor leadership moment.
3. Show you have confidence in them, and they will start to have confidence in themselves.
Eventually a team member should reach a point where they know what to do but may still lack the confidence to act. Self-confidence issues like that must be handled tactfully, but head on. Help them work through the problem through discussion, and even brainstorm options for what needs to be done. But resist the urge to swing to their rescue and solve it for them. The most effective way to help them grow is to provide just enough support for them to act. Your confidence in them will rub off and they will feel more empowered.
Ultimately, you have to be able to trust your team members to make the call. Proper growth can’t occur without trust, and the only way to know if you can trust someone is to trust them. If you feel the need to be part of every decision, it either means you have control issues or they aren’t the right person – either way it is your problem to solve.
Think about how Jesus empowered His disciples: He didn’t just delegate tasks, but gave them authority! He didn’t itemize exhaustive details about how they should accomplish the work, but trusted them to carry it out.
Teaching and equipping your team to make the call requires intentionality, effort, time, tact, and encouragement – but the long-term payoff is huge for everyone involved.
For more information, check out these related posts by clicking on the pictures below. Also, click HERE for more information on our Kingdom At Work Coaching efforts!