At our weekly coaching session, my client was more serious and quiet than usual. When I asked what was wrong, he said, “Nothing.”
After a long pause, he asked me, “What is the best advice you would give to a leader who is a fixer?”
I smiled and reassured him that most leaders I know—especially the really smart ones, the really good ones—are fixers at heart. But the truly great leaders know they can’t fix everything, and they know what to do when they catch themselves trying.
He started to relax a bit. Knowing he wasn’t alone in his concern was helpful. But of course our work had just begun—he also needed to know what to do.
This is what I told him:
When you want to jump in and correct someone, pause. Take a moment and give yourself a chance to regroup so you can make better decisions and act wisely. A smart leader who knows what needs to be done will want to jump in and correct the situation—but don’t. Be the leader who is able to ask the questions that lead others to the next step instead of finding it for them. Be a leader who empowers others.
When you want to tell people what to do, stop yourself. Great leaders don’t tell people what to do. They demonstrate, navigate, stand beside their people and work with them as partners. You never want to be the kind of leader who simply tells others what to do. Giving people a chance to have input and to give you feedback is a sign of a great leader.
When you delegate work and it isn’t done well, don’t criticize. Unless you’re an exceptional communicator, it’s hard for someone else to know exactly what you want. If you give someone an assignment. and it’s not done the way you would do it, resist the temptation to criticize. Instead, guide them through the work with questions, and ask them if they can think of a better approach. Give them an opportunity to think, assess and rework.
When you want to go faster, slow down. If you want speed, you might not get excellence or quality. As a leader, it is important to set the pace, but it is just as important that people can keep up with you. If you are 10 steps ahead of everyone, no one will be following you as a leader—so slow down to keep up with the people you want to bring along. Walk in step with those who are following you.
When you think you know how to do it better, check yourself. As leaders, we always tend to think we can do everything a little bit better. But part of leadership is giving the people you hired a chance to do their job. If you find yourself saying, “This is how we can do it better,” stop! Allow people to speak up and give their input. It’s your job to make the space for others to tell what they think and share their ideas. Leadership is not a one-person job—it takes a great group of people coming together to makes things work.
Great leaders know how to do many things very well. They have the competence and skills to make things better, faster, and quicker, and the confidence to act with intelligence and wisdom. But that doesn’t mean they should be trying to fix everything that isn’t working.
Lead from within: Great leadership isn’t showing off how much you know and how much you can do. It’s about allowing others to show you their own greatness so you can celebrate and appreciate it.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.