Many leaders fall into the quicksand of believing they can fix what’s wrong with other people. Some are motivated by a sincere desire to help people be their best.
Other leaders have an ego-driven I can fix’em mentality. They’re motivated by an internal desire to be known as the hero who saves the day.
The ideal position is for leaders to embrace their responsibility to develop people yet balance that with tough empathy and a focus on getting the job done. We fix cars or processes or machines; leaders don’t fix people — people fix themselves (and only if they want to be “fixed”).
So, to be a character-based leader who develops team members and who gets the job done, how do you get to the sweet spot between caring too much and seeing yourself as the white knight?
Lay the groundwork
A part of each leader’s job is to provide resources and remove barriers. Assure that you’ve given well-defined instructions. Make sure you’ve spelled out observable and/or measureable objectives or behaviors to be achieved. Provide lots of in-the-moment coaching, feedback, guidance and direction. Make certain there’s no lack of tools or equipment. If you’ve done all this and there’s still no change in performance, you’ve done all that you can do.
No one enjoys addressing others’ deficiencies. But failure to do so sends the message that people are on track when they really aren’t. And that may be the greatest disservice a leader can do to someone else. ~Eric Harvey
Allow room for flexibility
Do you want to fix people who aren’t doing things your way? Your way may not be the only one. Step back; provide autonomy while defining the outcomes you want. Usually there are many paths to the end goal; let people find their own way as long as they produce the specified results. What’s right for them may be different than what’s right for you…and that doesn’t make their way wrong.
I want to caution you against the idea that balance has to be a routine that looks the same week in and week out. ~Kevin Thoman
Ferret out your fears
Sometimes the interest in fixing others stems from trying to hide one’s own feelings of incompetence. Understand if your motives in seeking to develop the skills of others are to deflect your inner questions about your own qualifications.
Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop. ~Usman B. Asif
Are you in it for “me” or for “you?” Helping people improve their skills is ongoing work that’s focused on them, not a singular event focused on you. Assure that you want what’s best for your team rather than angling to get yourself in the spotlight.
Anytime there is a struggle between doing what is actually right and doing what seems right, then your ego is interfering with your decision. ~Darren L. Johnson