You’re just trying to help. People come to you with a problem and you solve it for them. It got you noticed. It got you promoted. It’s become a hamster wheel. It’s time to get off. When you’re providing the solution you’re not leading. And, while you think you are, you aren’t helping.
Your helpfulness is perpetuating a culture of dependency. Your people become dependent on you being the solution provider. Being the solution provider is an ego-booster.
Your helpfulness is perpetuating your feelings of overwhelm. Everyone brings you their problems! Why? Because you’ve trained them to! Being the solution provider is an energy drain.
Your helpfulness is perpetuating a logjam for everyone. What happens when your team can’t reach you? Things grind to a halt until you can provide a solution. Your helping is slowing things down. Being the solution provider is an anchor on your team’s ability to move with agility.
Your helpfulness is costing your company. While you’re spending time providing solutions, you’re not focusing on your own work. You’re doing the work of the people who report to you. So why is your company paying you? Being the solution provider is a resource drain on your organization.
Leaders push the limits and get people to engage and contribute. Being given the answers all the time has the opposite effect. The person bringing you their problem thinks they’ve hit a limit. Lead them through those limits by becoming curious and committed to their owning their reality. Ask them:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What’s in the way?
- What have you tried?
- What else might work?
- Who can help?
- What’s the best next step? By asking questions you will end the culture of dependency. People will learn to ask themselves the same questions and think more carefully to find their own solutions. By asking questions you break through the logjam. Developing your team’s capacity to think and act with autonomy results in higher engagement and increased ability to go faster.If you’re playing solution provider, it’s time for you to push the limits and step into leadership. For your sake and for the sake of your team and your organization, it’s time to stop helping and start leading.
- By asking questions you play the role you’re paid to play. Coach your team to understand the strategy, play their positions and execute the plan.
- By asking questions you will reduce your sense of overwhelm. As people become more capable to think things through and own their own solutions, your time and energy become yours again.
- By asking questions, you find out if the barriers the person is encountering are external or self-constructed.