What happens when you rely too much on key players in your organization?
Will your team be able to step up should those key individuals become indisposed or leave? Do you allow your team to develop solutions on their own or do they always come to you for answers?
In football, a team that relies on their quarterback to score a lot of points enables the defense to not perform up to their capability when needed. If the QB is hurt and the defense needs to step up, will they?
Eliminate Learned Helplessness
Just like the football team, your business cannot stand on just one person or one approach. You have to have the talent or develop the talent and defined processes so they can perform when needed. The idea of learned helplessness, as outlined in Dave Mattson’s book “The Road to Excellence,” addresses just this point. When faced with a problem does your team bring potential solutions to you along with the problem or do they look to you to have the answer every time? Empowering team members to own their problem and take the time to think through solutions before going to their manager for help will go a long way in building confidence and becoming self-sufficient. This way when the manager is away the team can step up to address problems and reduce time to getting the customer what they need.
Hold Your People Accountable
Not building a culture of accountability keeps the team in an insecure place in the company and enables a lot of finger pointing. Allowing individuals to make mistakes without the threat of losing their job can go a long way in helping the team build confidence and learn new skills. Mistakes can create an opportunity for mentoring and development so the next time an opportunity occurs that person will feel confident to take on that lead role.
Are You A Leader Or Manager?
One of the key requirements of a leader is to know the difference between leading and managing. Being a leader means rolling up your sleeves and leading your team by example. By demonstrating how projects are to be done or sales calls are to be made with customers, you are giving your team insights to how you have become successful. These insights allow the team to mimic key behaviors enabling them to operate autonomously but within guidelines you have shared. If you have not demonstrated the right behaviors to your team how do you expect them to know what is expected of them?
In contrast, a manager will point their team to guideline documents and then hold their team accountable to set goals without being a mentor. The leader works with the team on a one on one basis where they can demonstrate the behaviors needed to achieve those goals and getting concurrence/buy in of those goals one individual at a time.
What’s In Your Playbook?
As in a football team’s playbook, each player has a role that is defined. They know where they are supposed to be and what the expected outcome of each play is relative to their role. As a head coach you are working with your managers to ensure they understand and support each play and know their role to educate those players under them on where and what they are to do on the field. Practices are used to reinforce each play and for the managers to work with their players to perfect their role. A manager of a team would hand the playbook to each player and expect them to memorize their role and expect them to perform well.
Make a plan for building a bench of “players” who are willing and able to perform in their own roles effectively as well as being prepared to move into other roles (including yours) should you need them to.