Taking Responsibility = Trouble (Part 1 of 4)

3 minute read

You’re awesome at solving problems. That’s the problem with smart people.  Your team members come to you with problems and you solve them, in 10 seconds flat.  You’ve been there and done that, over and over again.  It’s how you’ve been so successful, how you’ve grown the business and advanced as a leader.  Only now your strength in problem solving has turned into a problem.  You’re in Autopilot, solving problems that aren’t yours to solve.  Day after day,  you’re getting yourself bogged down in the details, instead of running the show from a higher level.  

In a session two weeks ago, Caitlyn confessed that she had been frustrated with her 6 direct reports and was now starting to get resentful.  “All day long they’re IM’ing me and I’m spending more time on their issues than I am on MY work.  They’re Directors for crying out loud and they’re not stepping up and just handling things.”

I said, “let’s start with one team member.  When Randy comes to you with a problem, what questions are you asking?” 

She said, “I don’t have time to ask questions, it’s just faster to tell them what to do so I can get to the next thing on my list!”

Sound familiar to you?

Because you’ve been successful over and over again, you’ve mastered so many things at work that you’ve dropped down into Autopilot.  Autopilot means you are NOT aware of what you’re doing.  You’re not noticing that you’re actually creating a bigger problem by doing their work.  Taking responsibility in solving problems has turned into trouble because it’s stunting your growth & progress. And it’s stunting your team’s performance.

Two Things to Practice Starting Now:

  1. Ask yourself and Answer this question daily:  How much time did I spend doing work that others are paid to do? 
  2. When your team members bring their problems to you, instead of giving answers, ask questions.
    1. What have you done so far?
    2. Who are you collaborating with to tackle this?
    3. PRO TIP!  Do NOT ask a bunch of Yes or No questions.  That’s you, still solving the problem, simply in the disguise of questions.

Caitlyn started with these two simple actions and was shocked to discover she was spending 8-10 hours a week on work that doesn’t actually belong to her.  She’s so excited to gain back that time and focus strategically on higher-stakes challenges for the business.  

We’re excited for you to turn your problem solving back into a strength by getting out of Autopilot and into your Performance Zone!

Go make a ruckus, see you next time!

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Wingspan partners with leaders around the world to strengthen their behavioral performance and communication. Our approach centers on creating more intentional outcomes by developing healthy behavior systems, more productive interactions, and more meaningful relationships.