Support, Don't Rescue

March 22, 2012 -- Sal Silvester

People are often promoted to positions of leadership because they were good at what they did technically - as a software developer, analyst, nurse, technician, etc.

One of the challenges many new (and experienced) leaders face is the shift from being the "doer" to getting things done through others. And what often happens when leaders play the role of "Doer" is that they solve other people's problems for them. They fix things immediately when team members come to them. After all, it's much quicker to rescue and do it themself. And, in these times of rapid change and doing more with less, who can blame them.

The problem is that when others are rescued, they'll continue to come back to be rescued again…and again…and again. And, even with the efficiency in which the leader solved their first problem, it ends up costing more time in the end. Even worse, the team member will never develop the skills they need to grow.

So next time a team member comes to you looking to be rescued, support them instead. Lead them to the right answer, don't tell them. Ask questions that stimulate thinking and problem solving instead of giving them then answer. Provide resources for them to learn instead of directing.

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