Relinquishing Your Role as Chief Problem Solver
Complete Video Content Script:
“According to globally acclaimed author Keith Rosen, there exists a great leadership paradox. That is, managers create the very problems they want to avoid most. Continually putting out fires and solving their people’s challenges contributes to the two biggest frustrations managers are faced with, which are; “How do I get my people to be more self motivated and more accountable for their goals?” This paradox is fueled by the misperception managers have of their primary role, which is often believed to be; “chief problem solver” – a role learned from their boss, predecessors or mentors. Consequently, managers perceive their value is being the subject matter expert. And the truth is; they often like the feeling of being needed, admired and relied upon as the go to person, which provides them with a sense of purpose. Managers believe this is what their people want and need, while adding to their credibility and respect.
Conversely, to be a great leader and an effective coach, you need to relinquish your role as chief problem solver. Continually providing employees with solutions or jumping in too soon to fix their problems trains employees not to be accountable. Think about the message you send to your people when doing so. That is, “If you have problems, you can rely on me to fix them, so you don’t have to think for yourself.” And the real irony is, when you provide a solution to your direct report that doesn’t work, it’s now YOUR fault! You’ve robbed them of the very accountability and proactive thinking you want to create and instead, made them fully dependent on you!
The fact is; you can’t scale dependency. That’s why the primary goal of every manager is to make your people more valuable; which can only be achieved through consistent and effective coaching. So, stop giving the answers to your team. Instead, learn to ask the right questions that sharpen their problem solving skills to develop their own solutions as well as a heightened self awareness. Here are some low risk coaching questions you can use in your next conversation.
- What is the result you’re looking to achieve here?
- Can you share the specifics of what’s going on?
- What have you tried so far, to achieve the outcome you’re looking for?
- How have you handled something like this before?
- What are some other ideas you thought of that might work?
While there are other questions you can ask to conclude the conversation, these questions start your people exploring the path of self discovery, which creates deeper accountability. When they create the solution, they own it and if they own it, they’re more apt to act on it; rather than being told what to do. Remember: If you give them the answer today, you will be giving them the answer forever. However, if you effectively set the expectation of what coaching is and then coach your directs using a proven framework, such as Keith Rosen’s L.E.A.D.S. Coaching Framework; soon, your people’s self confidence will skyrocket and they won’t be coming to you with the same quantity of problems. This frees up your limited time to focus on your business objectives and making your people more valuable.
Managers who take the time to ask better questions that accurately assess the person’s gaps, uncover root cause and guide them to self discover their own solution, realize coaching is the most effective and sustainable way to truly develop your people into champions.”