By Michael Gunther
I’m always intrigued to hear leaders complain about their team’s lack of functioning, while at the same time the team complains about a lack of guidance or coaching from their manager. This cycle of dissatisfaction creates frustration for everyone and, interestingly enough, could be solved if the leaders stepped back and realized that they should not spend the majority of their time on tasks. Instead, the majority of their time should be spent on coaching, developing and supporting their team.
I am sure you heard these common excuses leaders give for not spending time with their team:
- “It is hectic and I’m putting out fires because my team isn’t stepping up to the plate.”
- “It is easier for me to perform the tasks than to take time to delegate to a team member.”
- “I am too busy doing my job that I don’t have time to coach my team.”
- “I wish my team would take on more responsibility, because I feel like every decision falls back on me.”
I imagine this list could go on and on. Yet, a leader’s job is to focus on developing their team’s growth. It is quite the quandary that seems to be a never-ending cycle.
The reality is the higher your leadership role, the less tasks and technical functions you should perform. I believe this is one of the hardest transitions for leaders to make. Most leaders are in their position because they are doers. The connection between the tasks they complete and their success is ingrained in their brain; as they take on more responsibility, they also end up taking on more tasks. However, the definition of a good leader isn’t how well they can get tasks done, but how much can they get done through others.
Leaders should evaluate if they are spending enough time with their people to teach, coach, empower and measure them in achieving outcomes. In fact, leaders logically understand this concept. I discovered that implementing new behaviors seems to be the more challenging part of the equation. It goes against what they learned on how to be successful as a ‘doer.’
The other area I typically uncover is that leaders don’t know how to effectively delegate or coach individuals. In addition, they have had little training or education on actually being a strong relationship-builder with their team. Without these skills, leaders will frequently revert back to their own behaviors and take back tasks and duties from their team.
Your job as a leader is to accomplish your goals through the assistance of others. Being a strong mentor, coach, trainer, and facilitator are basic requirements of a good leader. If you find yourself overwhelmed with a “to do” list but don’t ‘trust’ your team to take on those responsibilities, take a hard look at yourself in the mirror. Assess if you need to adjust your style and behaviors to become more of a delegator and facilitator of success, rather than the keeper of the tasks. You might be surprised at your team’s willingness to support you and take on additional responsibilities. You’ll find your time and effort will now focus on actually performing the role you should be doing.