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Holding Onto the Seat

Do you remember learning to ride a bike?  Someone probably held onto the back of the seat and ran alongside you a few times.  Then they encouraged you to try it on your own.  You wobbled a little before falling and skinning your knee.  Depending on their approach, you either kept trying or you gave up until they pushed you back outside and made you do it again.

But Not Too Long

In my coaching practice, I see a lot of leaders who are discouraging their teams by holding onto the bicycle seat too long and micromanaging.  Understandably, they don’t want anyone to fail but they don’t realize the importance of encouraging people to learn from falling down.  In these situations, I work with my clients to become effective leaders who equip people with the tools and support they need and then let them do their jobs.

Micromanagement or Motivation?

In the book What Leaders Really Do, John Kotter points out that, “Motivation and inspiration energize people, not by pushing them in the right direction as control mechanisms do but by satisfying basic human needs for achievement, a sense of belonging, recognition, self-esteem, a feeling of control over one’s life, and the ability to live up to one’s ideals.”

I invite you to envision what you and your team could achieve if you trade micromanagement for motivation.

what you need

In a recent team building session, the participants said they really enjoyed learning more about their colleagues and appreciated understanding themselves better.  They also valued the opportunity to practice what I call the recipe for success – asking for what you need.

Accept Responsibility for Getting What You Need

Whether coaching an executive or working with a team, my message is the same:  learn what you need and ask for it.  It can be really hard for high achievers to admit that they need something from someone else, but no one succeeds in a vacuum and we can’t expect others to read our minds.

Specifics Help You Tell Others What You Need

Most people are willing to help their colleagues, and being specific makes that easier.  If you need more time to reflect on a complex issue and you are being pressured to make a decision quickly, you could explain, “I can give you an answer now or I can give you a better answer at noon tomorrow.”

Know What Contributes to Your Success

You may be a very team-oriented person who also needs to have your individual efforts recognized.  Your colleagues are probably not aware of this need because your usual behavior doesn’t give them a clue.  This makes it especially important for you to let your boss and key colleagues know that you are a lot more productive when you are able to measure and receive feedback on your performance.

Now that you have the recipe for success – whip up something good!