“It’s only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on what is really important.” – Steve Jobs
When faced with a messy project, looming deadline or overdue deliverable within your team, how often do you say: “No problem, I can take it on. I’ll just do it myself.”
High performers (and that’s you by the way) by definition can do a lot, and so they do.
Which is great.
Except when it winds up being them shoveling others out too much of the time.
While it’s a needed and desirable leadership quality to be able to step up to the plate and take one for the team (proverbially or actually), continually taking responsibilities all on yourself can lead a host of issues both on the personal and team level.
Always being the “yes” person can quickly lead to personal burnout, fatigue and resentment.
And while it’s never the intent, focusing on the short term fix can both point to and lead to bigger team problems down the road: lack of team engagement and ownership for outcomes, drifting mission and purpose, and underdevelopment of other team member’s skills and capacities.
Being the one who saves the day persistently can become a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you’re the only one who will do it, you might become the only one doing it at all.
If you find yourself wearing the superhero cape too much of the time, try this:
1) Examine any positive patterns you and/or the team have about deadlines and projects. What’s working? What makes it work? How can the team as a whole do more of what works well?
2) Examine patterns you and/or the team have around deadlines and projects that are less effective or are causing frustration. What isn’t working? If there was a request underneath your or others’ complaints, what would it be?
3) Look inside: What’s the personal benefit you receive from playing the superhero role? What does it give you? What’s the positive intent you have for the team underneath being the superhero? How could you feel needed and valued and more skillfully fill the role of helper, guide, etc. that’s often beneath an urge to rescue?
4) Take off your cape: Imagine a common scenario when you swoop in and save the day. What would it be like to say ‘no’ and not rescue the team? What would happen? Look for information and patterns here as well.
5) Look to your team’s purpose. If you find yourself constantly putting out fires, what does that cost the team? What’s not getting done? What’s really important to be doing as a team?
6) What skills exist within the team that could be leveraged or harnessed earlier on so that rescuing becomes less necessary? What agreements could be created or reinforced to the team behavior you want?
In the Comments below, it’s your turn! Tell me:
– What’s your biggest insight from this post? What could you do today to put that insight into action?
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