Friday, November 9, 2012

ways not to get involved

Let's face it - the reason most people end up in a leadership role or position is that they like to fix things.  They see a problem and they want to get at a solution.  They set goals...they make things happen...they get involved.  And yet, as one continues in a leadership role or moves to the next level of leadership, getting involved can get them in trouble.  This past week I got involved in a situation in which I should not have been...and I watched as my own boss even got involved in the same situation in which he should not have been.  The problems with getting involved include:

  • you keep others from living out their own leadership roles
  • you should be spending time on other issues
  • you probably don't have all of the information and might end up making a poor decision
So what are we to do?  How do we fight against our very nature of getting involved to keep from getting involved?  Here are a few tips I have considered this week:
  • stay focused on the big picture - ask whether or not it is important for you to get involved
  • ask people the WHY question rather than the HOW and WHAT questions
  • get out of your office
  • never respond to an email on which you have been copied
  • when you hear people discussing an issue outside your office, and you feel yourself listening too closely, shut your door
  • become adept at asking the question, "what are YOU going to do about that?"
  • remind yourself that you do not know everything (i.e. you are NOT God)
  • be comfortable with the phrase "that's not my issue"
  • rest assured that most issues are being dealt with in the best possible way by the people best situated to dealt with them
Typing the above phrases was not easy for me - I wanted to argue with myself and say, "But what about...?"  The paradox of not getting involved is that great leaders do get involved.  I think the issue is that they have learned WHEN to get involved and HOW to get involved.  I know that at times I have to dig into the details...I have to ask about the HOW and the WHAT...I have to attend to details in the office...I have to inquire about an email on which I was copied...I have to insert myself into hallway conversations...I have to ask "What do you want ME to do about it?...I have to look like I know everything (well, maybe not)...I have to assume someone else's issue...and I have to realize that some issues are being dealt with very poorly by the wrong people.  These instances should be rare - and they should not define my leadership.

So take a quick inventory - what's your ratio from this past week of getting involved/not getting involved?  How are you intentionally letting others lead?  Where are you positioning yourself to make decisions that only you can and should make?  In other are you keeping yourself from getting involved?

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