Is it your natural instinct to fix things? You may be doing more harm than good.
My instinct is always to try and fix things – someone needs help, I’ll fix it, me me me, don’t’ worry I got this! I’ve spent a lot of time over the years, thinking about why I do this and I truly don’t believe it’s a people pleaser thing. For me, it’s very clear. I cannot bear to think of people worrying, anxious, losing sleep, or in a panic. I absolutely cannot bear it – I must fix it. How often I hear myself say to clients, don’t worry – I got this now, time to let this one go.
My managerial skills are somewhat different though…
I’ve managed teams for over 20 years, and I’ve learned that in this area I need to go against my fixer instinct. Sure, I could fix my teams issues, or I can give them the answers – but really, how is that leading them? How is that guiding them, or empowering them?
Being the fixer creates a culture of dependency. Every time you solve their problems you are (subconsciously) teaching them that they can’t do it on their own. You are teaching them that they have to come to you for the ‘right’ answer.
This may solve the problem in the moment, but there is a long term impact to using this approach. And then you start to feel frustrated that they can’t seem to figure things out on their own and always have to come to you for the answer.
I truly believe that as a leader it is up to me to create a culture where my teams bring solutions and not just the problems alone. Yes, I get that when they come to me they may not have the solution – that is probably why they came to me in the first place – because they felt they couldn’t fix it. So what do I do?
I ask a simple question – “what do you recommend we do to fix this?”
As an Online Business Manager, managing my clients teams is part of what I do and I find that it can take a while for the team to get into the way of problem + solution combo, especially if they have had a manager before me who jumped in to fix things.
I believe by encouraging my teams to think through a problem and explore solutions, I am helping to empower them, helping them build confidence, and helping them develop leadership skills. Creating a space for them to become more solution-focused, to grow, to rise to any challenge, I find, truly does help to empower teams.