Twenty-five years ago when faced with a 30-page paper on my management style, I quit graduate school. All these years later, I know how I manage and could whip it out in short time.
Over the weekend, I read Are you casting a shadow? by Anna Farmery at The Engaging Brand. Her leadership tip was against micro managing but it’s a proven method for great team accomplishments. She wrote:
So why do we look for talent and then watch every move they make…we are just casting a shadow and blocking out the light that will help them develop. Plant the ideas then stand back to let them grow. You will see or hear when they need watering and feeding.
You have to like and trust people to implement this management style. To let someone have control of an effort which you deem important is difficult. Quite frankly, I only realized it when I became burnt out when running an organization. I wanted other people to help. My tendency has always been to do things my own way. But I couldn’t do it anymore and let go, which created amazing results.
Now I’m a convert.
In my Cub Scout Pack, my team of leaders brainstorm at meetings and then flood our inboxes with ideas. They’ve been planning the best activities we have ever offered with enthusiasm, fun and … even a pirate costume.
I keep saying that I need to get out of the way and I do. However, as a manager you need to know when to “water and feed”.
- I step in when we have already tried something and it failed. Sometimes you need to pass on your experiences. However, I always frame the difficulties in such a way as to invite solutions. Even though a method has failed doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed and improved.
- When there are different viewpoints and suggestions, the leader needs to step in and make the decision to set the course. A leader has to have a sense as to what will work best and a solid ability to articulate the decision.
- Of course the leader steps in when no one else is actually getting the job done to provide the needed direction and instruction.
But for the most part, I just let them run with it all.
Are there other times to water and feed?