The Peril of Meaning Well But Doing Harm

It’s tragic when you mean well but do harm.

good intentions backfire when you do someone's job for them

4 ways to mean well but do harm:

#1. Allow nagging issues to persist.

You’re responsible if there’s a well-worn path around recurring problems.

Birds that bury their heads in sand get run over. What recurring issue do you need to solve?

Take a forward-facing stance, but for goodness sake, bring up negative patterns that hold people back.

#2. Improve too much.

You demoralize others when you always improve their ideas.

“Go for it,” is better than, “It would be even better if… ?”

Take every opportunity to say, “That’s a great idea. What’s next?” Speak up if you see real problems. Otherwise, add gas to their tank.

Allow people to learn as they go if time allows. Steer clear of telling people how to do things.

Align doing with being.

Connect people with what matters to them.

  1. What are you trying to accomplish beyond getting something done?
  2. What are the positive benefits to you and others?
  3. What’s fulfilling about this? Frustrating?

#3. Jump in to save the day.

Train them and trust them or fire yourself.

Savior-leaders love stepping in to “help”. They actually create resentment and distrust. Worse yet, they disempower people.

Good intentions backfire when you do someone’s job for them.

When you see what they don’t see:

  1. Point out dangers and issues they may not see. Explain the big picture. Others may not see the negative impact of their behaviors.
  2. Provide space for team members to reflect on their values, goals, and plans. Just don’t interject yourself into their responsibilities.
  3. Connect them with others who have experience. “You might talk with ….”

#4. Judge by failure while ignoring success.

It’s easy to figure out what people can’t do. But success is built on what they can do.

How have you boxed in teammates by focusing on past failures?

How might leaders unintentionally hold people back?

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