Leadership’s Most Perplexing People Decision
Save-the-day leaders weaken others but delay is dangerous.
People problems that hang-on are like dripping faucets. Delay escalates irritation. On the other hand, solutions-now seldom work; people need time.
The challenge of delay is choosing
the moment to step in.
Too much delay creates a laundry list of concerns that may feel like attack or betrayal when they come out. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?
On the other hand, stepping in too quickly undermines confidence, invites resentment, and establishes unnecessary dependencies. “Don’t you trust me?”
The benefit of delay:
- Confidence building – as long as there’s progress.
- Deep learning – self-discovery is always better than being told.
- Creative independence – don’t be a hand holder unless people are broken. Delay makes room for independent action.
The problem of delay:
- Failure costs. It slows progress, initially.
- Silence seems like approval. Never approve of failure. Always approve of progress.
- Lost leadership collateral. Those over you may not appreciate your development efforts.
Step in quickly when you see:
- Blind spots. Step in quickly but gently. Blind spots must be seen with our own eyes.
- Negative attitudes. Delay is always a disaster when it comes to negative attitudes. Developing skills is easy compared to lifting negative attitudes.
- Low commitment. Halfway commitment is all-the-way dissatisfying.
Two year olds:
Choose team members with the strength of two year olds, but without the weaknesses. “I can do it myself.” They take ownership with resolve but they’re not arrogant, angry, or closed.
As a rule of thumb, let others work through issues till they seek help on their own. Even two year old’s learn to ask for help.
When do you intervene?
What can you add to these lists?