As a woman in leadership, have you ever said to yourself, “I will just do it myself. It is faster.”
The funny part about this belief is that on some level, that is true. You are the leader because you probably were great in the department and got elevated. You probably have more experience than others on the team. So, if you do it, you might actually be faster…in the short term.
The challenge is if you are the one who is constantly doing the task, then no one else builds the muscle.
- They never try.
- They never fail.
- They never learn.
- They never take the task over from you.
Eventually you end up doing your job, and their job, and that is a disaster waiting to happen.
So, even though it feels great to put on our cape, swoop in, and save the day by rescuing the task, fight the urge and instead try the following actions.
- Evaluate how you are setting expectations – Clarity is kindness. We often “soft-pedal” requestions with things like “You decide,” ‘However you want to do it,’ and, “I want you to own it.” It’s like a “you-do-you moment”, but in reality, we have a picture in our mind of what we do (or do not) want. This leads to people guessing what you want or only doing part of it because they know you will just take over at some point. It is not rude or overbearing as a leader to ask for something specific. In reality, it can be perceived as passive aggressive to have an idea and make the other person guess what you want.
- Always set a due date – When someone tells me they “had” to jump in and take something over to get it done on time, I often ask, ‘What date did you set?” I often hear crickets. Followed by a pensive look. Followed by, “well I didn’t exactly give a date” kind of answer. Dates calibrate urgency. They allow us to have a common understanding of when something is needed. I had a client’s team respond viscerally that they hated it when he put in emails, “when you get a moment could you get this done.” He thought he was being nice. They hated the ambiguity and never “had a moment” – thus causing stress and panic each time they got a request.
- Bias towards teaching vs. taking over – I always hear, “Reagan, I don’t have time to teach.” True. You are doing two (or maybe three) people’s jobs. So, try this. Sit down and make a list of tasks that you are currently doing (maybe at night over a glass of wine or tea). Then ask yourself for each item, “Is it the best use of my time to do this task?” Think carefully about the cost of what you are not doing because you are doing that task. Then think about who on your team you can teach how to do the task and schedule the time to teach them. Block the time out, so it gets done. Tell them why you think they are the right person and make sure they have your best practices to accelerate their learning.
Reagan’s Rule: A true hero empowers their team and supports them to learn. Speed comes with practice, so let them have the “at bats.”