We’re always being encouraged not to quit. But not today. There’s one role I’d encourage you to walk away from right now. Your role as Chief Problem Solver and Decision Maker.
Enhanced Video Transcript: This is a video clip from a keynote Keith Rosen delivered in March of 2014 to an audience of approximately 700 sales managers from around the world.
It’s time to abandon toxic thinking. It’s time to look at the inner game of coaching. Not just what we do when we’re engaging with a customer or one of our direct reports, but how we need to think. Holistically, this is what creates a true champion. Because if you’re only focusing on developing the skills needed to become a champion and you aren’t focusing on the inner game; that is, how you think, your mindset, then you’re only developing half of the champion you can be.
So, to coach effectively, there is one thing, there is one role that every leader truly needs to abandon. And that is the role of Chief Problem Solver.
I don’t suppose there are any Chief Problem Solvers here today? Is my sarcasm translating?
Why do we as leaders and salespeople feel that we must have all the answers? That we must solve all of the problems coming at us?
For one thing, the majority of people leaders, regardless of geographic location or industry, would agree that the value they feel they bring to their team and to the company is being the Subject Matter Expert. After all, that’s why you were hired to be a manager in the first place, right?
Let’s explore this at a deeper level and walk through this line of thinking in order to identify the greater cost here. For example, if I was your manager and you came to me looking for help and every time you come to me, I provide you with the answers or solutions or share with you all of my worldly experience and expertise; and you get that solution from me. What are you thinking?
“Wow boss, you’re so awesome! That’s so great! Thank you so much for helping me! And thanks for continuing to solve all of my problems for me so that I don’t have to think on my own or be accountable for the solution!”
We feel the love! We feel included. We feel special. We also believe that it’s expected of us. “Well I’m a leader. I’m a salesperson. My customers, my direct reports they expect me to have the solutions.” But clearly, this comes at a great cost.
We learn the wrong lesson here. We learn that my value is being a subject matter expert. That’s part of your value. That is not all your value.
After all, is it truly empowering to give the answer or provide solutions to someone? No. Here’s the definition of empowerment. To give strength or power to. When you’re giving the answers, you’re not empowering someone. You’re dis-empowering them.
Another coaching paradox exists here. We create what we want to avoid. We create the very problems and challenges that we want to avoid.
I have yet to meet a manager who doesn’t want a team of highly independent, accountable salespeople. But think about this. If I’m a manager and every time to come to me with a problem I give you the answer, what message am I sending? That every time you have a problem, come to me, I’ll fix it for you.
And here’s the real irony, if the answer or solution I give you doesn’t work, whose fault is it? It comes back to me. And now my salespeople get to come back and say, “Hey boss. You know that solution you shared with me? Well, it didn’t work. It’s not my fault. I was just doing what you told me to do. My hands? They’re clean on this one.”
We’re actually robbing our people of the very accountability we want to instill, while making them more dependent on us.
Remember, what people hear, they resist but what they tell themselves they believe.
If you want people to take greater ownership around their roles and the daily objectives and challenges they face, let your question be the answer they need to further develop and refine their skills. Otherwise, if you continually solve all of your direct reports problems, their problem now becomes YOUR problem, and you just made yourself accountable for the outcome!
The most effective managers, coaches and leaders realize the importance and advantages of taking a stand for their team. In my world, in the spirit of simplicity, these words are synonymous to me. After all, if you want to build a team of champions, it begins by making your people leaders world-class coaches.
So, it’s not that your job description as a people manager has changed. What has changed is the way you engage, communicate, coach, empower and support your people.
That’s the language of coaching. It’s the language that creates the impact every leader wants. After all, when you change the conversation, you change the outcome.