Hand It Over Please

Leaders need to be aware of their mistakes – both of omission and of commission. This month we look at a fault that goes way back to our earliest days.

Some of us have evidently forgotten a basic schoolyard lesson – “you don’t grab toys out of someone else’s hands.” Remember that one? And the tussles that followed if you chose to snatch it anyway?

Admonishments were administered if we didn’t heed the advice. Continued violations were sternly met with the additional warning, “Keep your hands to yourself.” And occasionally, followed by a swat on the backside. All of this was done to make it clear that acting this way wasn’t acceptable.

The root of the issue is the common human desire for possession and control. Our inner-self screams, “Mine!” And calls out for the other to, “Let go!”

Well, according to the Fault Lines Leadership Study, bad behavior has migrated all the way from playground struggles to workplace leadership faults.

Here’s how.

One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is thinking they can do the job all by themselves. Or acting as a one man/woman team. When the work being done reflects on you, it’s easy to forget you’re there to oversee the work, not do the work. Big difference.

Overachievers, perfectionists, micromanagers, egotists, and probably quite a few well-intentioned, highly involved managers / supervisors / bosses, “take over,” squeezing out the people who are responsible for the tasks in the first place.

Failure to “let go” (remember the “Hands-off Rule”) results in worker demotivation and dissatisfaction. When the boss takes over, employees feel the lack of trust put in them, so they step back (or, equally as bad, are pushed to the sidelines) where they’re left to stand-by and watch – harboring secret resentments, and hoping for failure. Bosses who usurp their employee’s responsibilities undermine their own effectiveness.

Too bad too, since the sheer volume of things to be done makes this an impossible situation for a leader. You’re not helping when you get in their way. Don’t get between people and their work.

So hand it over please.

Leaders need competent, dedicated partners, who work independently, and collectively offer their individual contributions to the total effort. Success requires that everyone’s on board. Everyone’s given something significant to do. And everyone’s supported in its accomplishment.

Delegate, my friends, delegate.

And it doesn’t mean to disappear either. Get above the work, be aware of progress, and offer a helping hand only when absolutely necessary – when that happens, be sure to ask, “Do you mind if I help you with that?” This shows you actually know whose work it is that’s being done.

– Jerry Strom

Use Twitter to learn more from the study. Search quotes and findings by using the hashtag #FaultLinesRPT, or by following me: @JerryRStrom.

For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published.

This article is based on the *’Fault Lines Study: The Biggest Mistakes a Leader Can Make,’ copyright 2013, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, and request our primary findings paper, ‘The Listening Leader,’ which includes ‘Listening Strategies for the Executive Suite,’ at http://www.jerrystrom.com/research/js_fault-lines.html .


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