10 Ways To Be A ‘Guide’ vs A ‘Crutch’

Tags: Leadership, Leadership Worth Sharing Blog, Organizational Culture

We’ve all been there, wanting to do it all and feeling like we have to ‘rescue’ everyone who gets into trouble.   What happens? No growth. For anyone, including you!

It’s faster if I do it myself. I can’t depend on anyone else. They don’t know how to do it like me. The quality won’t be the same. Their work represents me and I don’t want them to represent me. If I don’t do it for them, they will fail. It will just take too long to show them and I don’t have time to show them!

Any of the above sound familiar? Regardless of whether or not you are a leader who is struggling to let go, a family member who just has to take care of everyone, or a friend who keeps on intervening when your friend is in trouble, this article is specifically for you!

It’s difficult, I know, to ‘let go’ and allow others to grow and come into their own.

The company you built from scratch for example, is ‘your baby.’ You put all of the sweat equity in it and the last thing you want is for someone to come along to possibly tear it down and God forbid, mess it up!

Bottom line: If you don’t allow others to grow, YOU will never grow, your company will never grow, and THEY will never grow!

Personally, you might have a friend you care about who can’t seem to catch a break and is down on his luck. And because you are such a ‘good friend,’ you are the one who seems to always ‘save’ him every time. The interesting thing however, is that he never seems to get ‘out of the hole.’

Regardless, the only way to ‘break the cycle,’ is to ‘let go!’ Here’s 10 ways…

  1. Say NO once in a while! It’s all to easy to give in to any request and simply say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no.’ What happens, we get grumpy and ‘kick ourselves’ because we should have said ‘no’ in the first place. Let’s face it, saying ‘yes’ all of the time sometimes feels like we are being walked on!
  2. Remove YOUR ‘guilt’ and ‘sense of obligation’ from your mindset. Often times, if those we don’t help fail, we feel guilty. We personally associate ourselves to their failure. STOP associating yourself to their failures! Somehow, we get sucked into the trap in believing we could have prevented their failure. Maybe so. Maybe not. But in the long run, you aren’t helping anyone.
  3. Empower vs Enable Others. Do you know the difference? Empowering is about giving your people the ability to ‘do it on their own.’ Enabling is about actually doing their work and taking their steps! STOP taking their steps! Empowering leads to growth for everyone. Enabling stunts everyone’s growth.
  4. Let your people fail. That’s right. Let them fail. Think about your greatest lessons in life. They came from your failures, period. You want your people to grow? Let them fail! What about the ramifications you might ask? Risk manage. Create enough guide posts that allows you to manage the failures. You did it naturally with your kids when they were growing up. A ‘playpen’ for example, was a safe place for your kids to ‘fail.’ Do a similar set up for your people and allow them to fail, safely!
  5. Be available for your people but don’t be a ‘wet blanket!’ Micro-managers are ‘wet blankets.’ Don’t be a micro-manager, but do be present and accessible. Let your people know they can depend on you when they need help. But don’t hover over them so much that they feel NO sense of autonomy.
  6. If they don’t ‘ask for help,’ don’t ‘suggest’ it! We ALL have ‘pleasing’ tendencies in us. And there are times when we ‘impose’ help onto others without them even asking for it. Don’t do that!
  7. Listen to people’s ‘pity parties’ but don’t join them! It is easy to become part of and sucked into other’s ‘pity parties.’ Empathize, yes. Join, no. When listening, show empathy and ask ‘empowering vs enabling questions.’ ‘I’m sorry for your situation, what have you done to resolve this’ is an example of an empowering question. ‘I’m sorry for your situation, how can I help,’ is NOT!
  8. Hold your ground and be consistent when you finally let go of ‘other people’s stuff! Those who are used to ‘taking advantage of you’ won’t ‘break’ their habits easily. You must be consistent in your actions of ‘letting go,’ and stay the course. Eventually, people will learn you will no longer ‘own’ their stuff. But only if you stay consistent and persistent.
  9. Think ‘long term gain’ during the ‘short term pain’ of letting go. It will be difficult to no longer ‘owning other people’s stuff.’ But if you keep focused on what it means for your growth, and ultimately theirs, it will be liberating, literally.
  10. Be the role model yourself of what it means to own your life and help others own theirs. This means you, yourself must stop passing your ‘stuff’ onto others as well. I will be the first to admit that I like ‘pity parties’ for myself sometimes. But I must practice what I preach if others are going to follow my example as well. This means my business is my business and their business is theirs.

Letting go is scary stuff. What will happen if I am no longer there as the ‘safety net’ for my people? What will happen if I allow others to ‘touch my baby’ and make it into something else? What will happen if the person I give more responsibility to becomes more important than me?

The reality is that true growth only happens when we empower and provide opportunities for others. ‘Hoarding’ and ‘rescuing’ leads to dependency. Want to see your people grow? Want to grow yourself? Let go.

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