Last year, one of my team members came into my office and said, “Tim, I hope you are wearing your cape today because I really need your help…” I must admit, this was a great feeling. I liked the idea of being the “superhero” that people came to for help and that others trusted me to save the day… It was rewarding to know that others came to me in their time of need which is exactly what makes what I’ll share in this post so difficult for me…
A few months later, I was doing research for my Leading Teams course for grad school and my perspective on being “the superhero” changed drastically…
The more I learned about what it takes to successfully lead teams and to truly be an effective leader, the more I noticed an important trend…
The best leaders know when it’s time to step up and put on their “superhero cape” but they also know when its time to challenge those they lead to step up and be their own superhero’s. As great as it feels to be the the one the save the day, eventually it does a disservice to those you lead if they know you are always there to give them the answers and solve their problems for them.
As difficult as it may be to acknowledge, you become a crutch by always stepping in to save the day. If people don’t have to step out of their comfort zones and try to solve difficult problems or overcome significant challenges themselves before coming to you, they are less likely to ever recognize their own abilities or realize their true potential.
This isn’t to say you can’t be there for support and that there isn’t a time and place for you to step in and save the day but if you truly want to help those you lead maximize their potential and develop their own abilities, you must not take away the chances they have to build confidence in themselves as their own hero.
The hardest part about this concept is that each and every person you lead requires a different level of support. Some people just require a simple nudge in the right direction and are ready to step up and be the hero while others need much more. Some people need more support, encouragement, coaching and development to build the self-confidence needed to be their own hero.
Either way, there’s a time and place for you as the leader to save the day. As great as it feels to know others come to you in their time of need, it will always be more rewarding to see those you lead step up and be their own hero!
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