Empower with Distance: Part 3 of 5
In the introductory post to this series I put forward that the 3rd component to empowering your people is putting some distance between you and them.
I don't mean this to mean that you don't see or engage with them. I also am not yet talking about trust. (You should trust them which is the 5th component of empowering, but trust is different than distancing).
Putting distance between yourself and those you lead means making enough room for them to discover things on their own and to sometimes make mistakes on their own. When someone learns something on their own, mistakes and all, it makes them stronger, wiser, and more reliable. Each time they go through that process they become more confident in their own abilities.
It is tempting as leaders to want to eliminate all possibility of mistakes* or to try and minimize the amount of time a task will take. Sometimes this is required but I think less so than we think. We need to foster growth in our people as much as or more so than the growth we seek for our companies, units, and departments. It is our job as leaders to create space for this natural process for learning-mistakes-growth to occur in our people. Confident team members that know how to learn will become your most valuable asset as a leader.
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*In this framework I am not speaking to mistakes that are a violation of company policy, cultural expectations, or documented processes. These types of mistakes should be dealt with quickly and avoided at all costs. Similarly, well established processes that need to performed quickly should be performed as quickly as possible.