Louise is the owner of a retail clothing store. She has 1 store manager and several girls working in the store. Today’s leadership coaching session started off with Louise complaining about her manager’s poor performance. Louise was thinking she needed to “fix” her manager or let her go due to poor performance.
Louise’s goal is to have her manager, Sue, be independently operating the retail store. Louise thought Sue would take the reins as long as she felt supported and reassured by Louise. Louise’s frustration was that no matter how much reassurance she gave Sue, Sue kept asking questions and needing help, despite being on the job several months. The ongoing help Sue requested was not getting Louise the time freedom she was looking for and Louise was extremely frustrated.
Once I probed into the details, Louise and I discovered that Louise was actually sabotaging Sue’s success.
We discovered that when Sue comes to Louise with questions, Louise tells Sue what to do because Louise is not fully confident in Sue. We realized that Louise’s practice of giving Sue the answers was keeping Sue dependent on Louise and was undermining Louise’s goal of having Sue be confident and independent.
We framed the situation as follows:
Telling someone we believe in them puts a small deposit into the confidence “bank account”. But when we turn around and give that same person the answers to their questions, or tell them “just do it this way” (because it seems faster and easier to do so) we send a message to that person that we don’t really believe they are capable. This message withdraws “confidence capital” from the account for both parties. Over time, this behaviour of giving people answers actually sabotages their personal growth and success and keeps them dependent for the answers.
Asking questions that help the other person find their own answers, then letting that person put her solution in place to test the result, puts a much larger deposit into the confidence bank account for both parties and is an investment that pays higher returns over time.
Are you sabotaging or supporting your staff?