6 Questions Smart Leaders Ask Themselves When Giving Ownership
#1. What is my attitude about letting go of things?
Leaders who are reluctant to give ownership always end up doing other people’s work.
People are slow to take ownership when you are reluctant to give it.
Most of us learn to let go only after we’re overwhelmed.
#2. What are my first responses to the failure of others?
Consolation shields people from responsibility. Compassion is a beautiful thing if it doesn’t promote irresponsibility.
Know the difference between resonating with people’s distress and taking responsibility for someone’s job.
#3. How frequently am I being a fixer?
It’s natural to rush to fix, but it’s detrimental when competent teammates are the object of your efforts.
The damning implication fixers make is others are incompetent.
People who feel incompetent are terrified of responsibility.
Competence loves to fix its own mistakes and face its own challenges. If your child protests, “I’ll do it myself,” you’re insulting their perceived competence.
Fixing belittles; resonating encourages.
#4. How frequently am I answering the same question?
When new employees ask questions, give them answers. When new employees repeat the same question ask, “What needs to be true for you to move forward without my help?”
Over-helpful leaders are surrounded by incompetent followers.
#5. How often am I warning about what could go wrong?
Overprotection promotes weakness.
Along with explaining what could go wrong, overprotective leaders avoid tough conversations.
#6. How frequently do I expect check-ins?
The real term for frequent check-ins is micromanaging.
When you’re alone, are you thinking about what you should do or what others should do?
When you ask questions, how frequently do you already know the ‘right’ answer?
Tip: When giving ownership for the first time ask, “What needs to be true for you to own this job?”
What makes giving ownership difficult?
What are you doing to help others take ownership?
Good Morning Dan, As usual. Thought provoking.. #3 and #5 are resonating with me. How to change being looked at as “fixer”? As # 5 is what get you there… to go and fix ….even.. told you so happens.
Good morning Pat. I’d be surprised if most of my readers didn’t struggle with fixing. Fixing and giving quick answers go hand in hand.
It’s a challenge to learn that people usually step back when we step forward.
We have to consider the competence of the person when giving ownership. If they are competent? Whey do we need to step in? If they are incompetent, why do we expect them to take ownership. Instead of fixing, perhaps training is better?
From one fixer to another…cheers
Great post, and it addresses one of the most common and recurring obstacles to leadership effectiveness. I learned to take to heart Lao Tzu’s “When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’ ” Leaders have to teach their people to have confidence in their training and the knowledge, skills and abilities they have learned -and continue to learn as experience grows. The learning curve looks different for each individual, so the leader’s approach must be appropriately nuanced. The best leaders I worked for encouraged and allowed me to take ownership within that framework, and I was much the better for it. I emulated their practices when I was put in leadership positions.
Thanks Jim. The Lao Tzu quote is a challenge to ego. You remind me that giving ownership requires humility. Cheers.
I once told a new employee the following: “We hired you because you are capable. We gave you onboarding training and you’ve been here a month. I am about to throw you in the deep end, because I know you can swim. I will be standing here with a life preserver (which I know you don’t need) just in case.” They laughed, and then we discussed their assignment and what they needed from me to get it done.
What makes giving ownership difficult? If they fail, you also fail. Give permission to succeed at failing.
What are you doing to help others take ownership? Give them permission.