Rescuing is Not Helping

Can your team members count on you to bail them out when things get tough? Are you a rescuer? If so, you are not alone as many leaders with the best of intentions strip learning and growth opportunities from their team by solving issues and cleaning up after a mess up.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the benefits of letting others provide advice. By doing so we allow them to think critically about an issue and build confidence by taking ownership. Similarly, when we rescue someone from a problem, we take away an opportunity for them to learn and grow.

The benefits of empowering go well beyond learning opportunities and include immediate and future time saving for the leader as a dependency will not develop that can become a repeating cycle. Remember you hire people that are capable of doing their jobs – every day they come to work you are verifying that statement – so let them do their job.

We find that in technical and service companies, problem solvers, and too often fire fighters (metaphorically speaking), receive the highest praise so it is difficult for leaders to not fall into the trap of saving the day when something goes wrong.

This is not to say that leaders must never solve issues, far from it, but when an issue won’t bring the company down, leaders should let team members deal with it.

Here are a few questions to help decide whether its time to step in, or let others take ownership.

  • If I don’t solve this issue will the long-term health of the organization suffer significantly?
  • Can the organization benefit long-term if other people’s skills are developed in solving the issue?
  • Am I the most qualified person to solve this issue?
    • If so, how can the organization coach and train others to be able to solve this type of issue?
    • Is there information I can share that will help others solve the issue?
  • Am I just having trouble saying No?
  • Am I overly worried about perfection or losing control?
  • Who would benefit most from solving this issue?

Leadership may be challenging, but it doesn’t need to absorb all of your time, so give other’s the opportunity to rescue themselves and free up your day for your own development.