This post was originally published in March of 2012. The content has been updated so I have republished the article.
Many leaders have the belief that they should be the solver of all problems because that is why they are a leader. Yet solving all your team’s problems holds the team and its members back from their full potential. It also holds you back as a leader. If you aren’t developing your team members, how can you ever grow and take on bigger challenges if there is no one around you to pick up some of your existing responsibilities?
So the next time a team member has a problem and before you respond with your solution to the answer, stop and ask yourself the following:
- Does this person have the potential to solve this issue if guided by some questions?
- Is this a moment when the employee has the opportunity to learn from this issue? I.e. is this a teachable moment?
If your answer is yes to these two questions, then here are some questions to help and guide the person to their own solution(s).
- Tell me what you have tried up until this point
- What worked and why do you think it worked?
- What didn’t work and what were the causes for failure?
- What other options do you have that you have not yet tried?
- What similar situations have you been in like this?
- What fears do you have that holds you back?
- What resources would you need to try these other options?
- How would you get these resources?
There are other opportunities to coach other than when an employee is stuck on a problem. These coaching opportunities include: dealing with conflict, falling short on goals, decision making, a crisis, lack of interpersonal skills, and career development.
Remember that as a leader one of the most important responsibilities you have is to develop your people. Development will impact their performance as well as yours by teaching them how to be resourceful, innovative, and most importantly self-reflective. On the flip side, coaching your employees will build an important skill for you as a leader and build your own succession plan so that you also have professional growth opportunities. The more you develop your team members, the more time in the future you will have to do the bigger more visionary things that will have more of a long term impact on organizational success.
Who in your organization, if coached, could reach a higher level of performance? And, what is your plan to start the process?
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