Darryl Stewart
By Darryl Stewart
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Hands grabbing and sorting through a mix of puzzle pieces

Let your team figure it out

As leaders, we are ultimately responsible for the quality of the work each member of our team performs. Yet most of what our team members do, they do on their own. This is our dilemma as leaders. We might think we have more control than our team members, but in reality, they have more control than we do. Much more. Each of them can decide what to do in their area. All we can do is try to motivate and guide them. We can’t be there to watch them each step of the way.

Given this dilemma, many leaders fall into the trap of trying to break down the required outcome into as many small steps as possible so that they can tell each person exactly how to get things done “right”. Unfortunately, nothing crushes the human spirit much faster than being treated like a robot. Robots are programmed to complete tasks exactly how the programmer wants. We humans don’t like that. We crave the autonomy to figure out how to get things done. We are generally okay with being told what needs to get done. We are not okay with being told exactly how to do it. We all want to use our own unique style and strengths.

Great leaders understand this truth about humans and put their energy into defining the required outcome in as much detail as possible as opposed to prescribing how to perform each step along the way.

Of course, safety, budgets, and quality standards need to be respected, but outside of these key areas, we need to leave plenty of room for each of our team to do things in their own unique way.

Try putting less energy into micro-managing the steps and putting more energy into getting buy-in on the end results. This will make your life easier as a leader and immediately improve the well-being of your team.