If you are a leader of people how do you lead and manage your team and individuals in your team?
What degree of dependency exists in your “boss / subordinate” relationships?
What do I mean by that? Well, consider the push / pull continuum.
At one end of the continuum (push) you are operating in a more directive way i.e. instructing, giving advice, telling, giving feedback.
At the other end of the continuum (pull) you are operating in a more non-directive way i.e. asking questions, reflecting-back, listening to understand and inviting your “subordinate” to enter a self-generating process of problem solving.
Now sometimes it may be appropriate to operate at the directive end of the continuum and other times it may be appropriate to operate at the non-directive end of the continuum and the best leaders understand that this often depends on the situation and circumstances.
A dependent boss / team member relationship exists and is sustained where the team member constantly seeks direction and waits to be told what to do or how to do it, or where the team member constantly seek validation before acting, and the boss responds by telling or directing i.e. giving the answers.
In my experience, this type of boss / team member dependent relationship is potentially really damaging to organisations. It can severely limit the growth and development of the person reporting into the leader and causes the leader to operate in a “push” or directive leadership style.
However, the more often you operate in a non-directive, coaching leadership style as a leader, the more you support the learning and development of the people you lead. The more opportunities you give them to figure things out for themselves, to become more self-sufficient, to take calculated risks, to stretch themselves!
The benefit for those who report into you is that they become more capable of leading themselves and of making decisions, offering proposals in a proactive way and taking ownership for their tasks and responsibilities.
The benefit for you as a leader is not only do you build capability and improve the quality and contributions of your team members; you also gain back time to focus on the things you want to work on.
Do you want 10 hours back every week (this is subjective but conservative estimate in my opinion)?
Start noticing those dependent relationships and try to stretch yourself and those reporting to you by operating more often at the non-directive “pull” end of the spectrum.
I help people leaders to become a "leader / coach", to have great coaching conversations that improve people and organisations.
Rod Pearson – Managing Director and Principal Consultant of Bondgate (Scotland) Ltd