Taking Responsibility = Trouble (Part 3 of 4)

3 minute read

I remember feeling really  important…feeling like my co-workers needed me.  A thousand years ago when I was a systems administrator for AAL Capital Management, I was on the team that implemented and supported our network, desktops, and all of the financial management systems including supporting the trading desk.  It was a high-pressure job with lots of type-A personalities.  Along with six other team members, I wore a pager.  Oh yeah, I thought I was hot stuff.  Because when something went down, my beeper went off – day or night.  

Feeling important can be addictive.  It was for me.  I loved being the Go-To person for the business.  It’s our third example in our Taking Responsibility = Trouble series.

How does “being the Go-To” turn into trouble?  There are several ways this becomes problematic.

If you’re watching this, you’re a high-performer who consistently advances your scope of impact and scope of responsibility in your organization.  That often means that a team has grown around you and now other team members own responsibilities, duties & deliverables that used to belong to you.  The key phrase is “used to” belong to you.

  1. How many times a day are people interrupting you because you’re “the Go-To”?  How many hours a week are you spending fielding, managing or re-directing these requests?  This is a really important question for you to answer.  Multiply the # of hours by 50 & write it down…even if you say “well, it’s just a couple of hours per week”, that’s 100 hrs per year…two and a half FULL WORKING WEEKS.  Defining it accurately can be a real eye opener.
  2. Every time someone comes to you for little things they can find or solve on their own, (or with other team members) it can start to get annoying.  Even though it feels good that people trust you and think of you, admit it…when they keep bringing pesky little issues to you, it can get borderline condescending. Co-workers keep seeing you as the Go-To for things you’ve advanced beyond in your experience, knowledge and expertise.
    You’re accidentally keeping yourself at a specific technical level instead of the higher level work you have.  This has a major impact on your personal growth, either slowing things down, or making it more likely you’ll stay at a certain level.
  3. The trouble gets bigger when you’re unintentionally sending messages to your team members that you don’t trust them to be the new Go-To. 
    “Why doesn’t she trust me to handle this?”
    “How come he’s not telling people to come to me now?”
    When team members are asking questions like this, it takes a toll on the overall effort and performance they give, along with the level of trust in your work relations.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, though it’s a solid, practical place for you to start.  Stop being the Go-To for any responsibilities that no longer belong to you and you’ll free yourself up to lead at the level that’s most valuable for you and the business.

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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.