I was speaking with a client who described his working fate as “I have to be there all the time.  My team can’t operate without me. I’m essential.” It’s a common dynamic that leaders create for themselves.

If you set the precedent that you have all of the answers, you are training your team to come to you with all of the questions. When you hire well and you deploy excellent leadership skills you are empowering your team, staff, or organization.  You can easily steer the conversation, set priorities, and demonstrate leadership not by directives, but by posing questions. If you demonstrate, consistently and publicly, that you are open to others developing answers, you are inspiring your team to think for themselves, to raise their participation level, and to increase their feeling of making an impact. 

What is the crux of making this work? Setting a strong cultural acceptance when mistakes are made. Disconnect the activity of making a decision from the outcome of the decision made.  It is imperative to avoid saying you want others to make decisions and then responding negatively when decisions are made that you don’t agree with. Instead, focus on reinforcing the behavior of making decisions, over the judgment of the decision made. When you respond with empathy, feedback, and coaching the level of the decision-making will improve, the outcomes will get better, and the feeling of employee engagement will rise. Remember, think coaching, not managing.