Much as we teach children to look both ways before crossing the street, well intentioned leaders give new managers similar guidelines to develop good habits. But it’s more than the habits you’re trying to instill, it’s good judgment. Simple reinforced rules don’t teach them how to think. They teach them how to obey. As many have asked on LinkedIn and blogs I frequent recently, isn’t what we’re really trying to teach new leaders, those we are entrusting to then lead front line team members to be future leaders, simple use of good judgment? The short answer is yes, but how might you do that?
Hire Slow, Fire Fast
The concept of teaching good judgment is a process and to work well it must begin with a good foundation. When you hire to quickly check the vacancy off you’re list, you might close the hole, but create a giant gap in in what they need to lead. A promotion does not prepare someone to lead, so hire slowly. Ask them key questions to tell you about their past leadership performance. Assess their attributes, skills, and talents that come naturally. If you put an overly analytical thinker in a very fast paced role, they’ll likely be miserable and not learn good judgment, but develop masterful coping skills on how to deal with constantly stressful demands.
Let Them Fail
This is not the same as “leave them dangling out there in the wind to figure it out”. Letting them fail is about letting them at times, run with their ideas and see how they work out. Succeed or fail, okay, they learn. And when they fail, get their input on how to fix it, and let them fix it. They learn again and that lesson will stick.
Don’t Answer Every Question
No one likes the psychologist that answers every question with “how does that make you feel”, yet the methodology is the same as what I’m suggesting. When that leader runs to you for input, let them explain their need and their idea and when they ask you what you think, ask them first what they think. Maybe even ask if they’ve thought about what will happen if things don’t go as they plan. If you answer every question, they don’t learn to think or evaluate, they learn to ask fast.
The real goal of a leader is to mold those they lead into the best possible version of themselves they can be. If you’re taking away their chance to learn by micromanaging their every move, or giving them all the answers to questions they’ve not even asked, you’re not teaching them how to be better at who they are, but be better at working with who you are.
I’m Monica Wofford, and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great Monday, an even better week and of course, stay contagious!
Monica Wofford, MBA, CSP, is an international speaker, trainer, and author who helps managers who were promoted, actually become prepared to lead.