16 Ways to Help Less


Help done poorly creates dependency. But, help withheld seems disconnected or cold.

Leaders who say, “How can I help,” connect, change attitudes, and move agendas forward. But, help that weakens teams hurts organizations.

Over-helpful leaders frustrate teams.

Help done well strengthens.

Help done poorly weakens.

How to help less:

  1. Help team mates find mentors.
  2. Get them started and step away. “Give me a call if you need something else.”
  3. Everything doesn’t have to be a teaching moment. Click the dang mouse and be done with it. Move on.
  4. Hold your hands behind your back and ask questions.
  5. Take half a step back and listen.
  6. Will you have to keep helping? Don’t.
  7. When deadlines are looming, help. Otherwise, offer a suggestion or two.
  8. Don’t be the go to guy. Needy leaders need to be needed. “Who on our team has done this before?”
  9. Say, “What have we learned when mistakes are made.”

James daSilva, senior editor at  SmartBrief, on how to help less:

  1. Train thoroughly and energetically.
  2. Find out what team members have already done and give them a crack at related problems.
  3. Pause. Resist the urge to offer your solution, even if only for a minute.
  4. … if it’s a problem that requires a personal touch, critical thinking? I may need to be a guide but I can’t take over.”
  5. Buy time. Ask, “What are you thinking?” or “Where are we?” This gives you needed information and buys time to think about what advice you really want to offer.
  6. When you see something they don’t, get some feedback. Getting in the habit of asking the room (when applicable) will make it easier to do so when the problems come to you.
  7. Stay available for backup or counsel, but not before they make an attempt at solving the problem.

(#3 on my list was inspired by James but he said it too nice for my liking.)

When should leaders help less?

How can leaders help less without seeming disconnected or cold?