Leaders: Stop Being So Responsible

I want to admit right up front, when I was a corporate employee, I was, let's say, "challenging."

Several years ago I was meeting with my boss about me potentially becoming a supervisor. He started telling me what he liked least about being a supervisor.

He said, "giving people bad news."  It's just so painful, just so hard to tell people something that is going to hurt them. He went on for awhile about this.

Sometimes I wonder if I channel messages from another realm (or I was just embarrassingly arrogant) because this is what came out of my naive, inexperienced little self.

"Not that I would like to give people bad news, but I would rather be the person to do it because I'm going to be more focused on what they need rather than what I'm going through."

Now to give my supervisor credit, I suspect he was testing my reaction. Since then I have coached many supervisors in this position, and been in this position plenty of times myself. It's way too easy to get caught up in our own response.

What keeps us there?

"The problem of distinguishing what we are and what we are not responsible for in this life is one of the greatest problems of human existence." - M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

I find this in so many issues that managers bring to our coaching. It is perfectly understandable to feel responsible for "making them feel bad," when you are delivering a message that may upset someone. Yes, you are delivering the message, but in most cases the facts of the situation exist despite the fact that you are the one delivering the message.

What are you responsible for?

If we are going to "feel responsible," let's feel responsible for the right stuff!

As a leader in this situation, what I feel responsible for is:

- preparing for the discussion

- making sure they understand what the message means, and what it doesn't mean

- ensuring they know who can support them and how

- helping them identify what they can do when they leave the room

If we can get past our own discomfort, we can actually do our organization members a great service. When we get a handle on our own "stuff," we can help employees see a way through their situation to get to the point where they can… productively do work. And perhaps you've built more "trust capital" in the relationship at the same time.

What's it going to take for you to get over yourself?

Originally posted on Mary's blog: www.reimaginework.com