Many leaders I work with initially complain their teams and certain individuals are not able to function independently without their direct input.
When we discuss the situation, it often becomes clear the leader has not allowed the team or people to fully develop their skills without the leader stepping in to “speed things up,” “fix things” or “show them how to do it.”
If you want independent teams and individuals, two leadership skills are essential.
The first is the ability to develop others. The second is the ability to support people. These two skills go hand in hand. This discussion will focus on supporting others.
When associates and teams are learning something difficult, suffering from loss, wrestling with an issue, striving to change or engaged in conflict, they need support from you.
They do not need you to step in and “fix it” unless there is danger or they are really stuck.
Support is the skill of connecting emotionally with people, acknowledging their struggle, empathizing with them, and making your care and concern evident to them as they go through something powerful and important.
It is not giving unasked-for advice, doing it for them or intervening in such a way that they do not resolve the situation themselves.
Being proficient at supporting others means:
- Being emotionally available.
- Having the patience to stay with them as they wrestle with an issue. Learning, growth and change take time.
- Understanding and acknowledging the difficulty of the task or process. After they have mastered it, they often forget how hard it was to do something.
- Seeing when someone is truly stuck and needs help to move forward.
- Understanding when a situation requires support.
- Knowing how to deliver important messages in a clear, direct and compassionate way.
- Having the ability to really listen to others, hear what they are going through and respond directly to it.
Struggling with issues, learning and change allows your associates to develop the “muscles” to do their jobs better, to be more resilient and to be able to function independently.
Giving support is the extra ingredient that bolsters them to hang tough when the going gets tough.
Without that ability developed over time at each level of their career or life, many people fold at the slightest challenge, and you will find yourself forever having to do their jobs — and yours.
Life is precious, don’t waste a drop.