It takes a lot of skill, wisdom and grace to lead without controlling. To know when to be hands on and when to be hands off. Leaders who are  anxious for quick results and success can be over-engaged. Dan Rockwell shares some great thoughts on how over-engaged leaders can produce dis-engaged teams.

When is a leader’s engagement too much and hurting things?

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Over-engaged leaders work way too hard.

Over-engaged leaders produce disengaged teams. Work to make space for others, if you’re an over-engaged leader.

Over-engaged leaders:

  1. Love check lists. Don’t dive into problem-solving without exploring why it matters. Over-engaged leaders can’t resist quickly solving problems like squirrels can’t resist nuts.
  2. Lack curiosity. Curiosity dies when quick minded leaders give quick answers. Over-engaged leaders answer questions, but seldom ask them. Seek options before choosing solutions.
  3. Neglect emotional considerations. Ask yourself how people feel when when you’re in the room? Energized? Nervous? Respected? Like cogs?
  4. Step in quickly. When you step in quickly, others step back.  

Successful leaders create environments where heads turn toward each other when issues arise.

Engagement means:

  1. Leaders are less central. Heads turn toward each other rather than the head of the table.
  2. Others step in. Engagement goes down when everything centers on one leader.
  3. Leaders loosen their grip so others can strengthen theirs. Solutions are developed collaboratively not before the meeting. Don’t bring a pre-ordained solution to a meeting where you expect collaboration.
  4. Results and responsibilities are clearly known and publicly shared.

You eliminate space for engagement when you answer all the questions and bring pre-planned solutions to the meeting.

Engaging environments:

  1. People touched by the work, participate in planning the work.
  2. Options are explored. “How might that work?”
  3. Authority is delegated.
  4. Team members feel responsible to each other. Letting the team down is discussed publicly by the team.

3 questions that move leaders toward engagement:

  1. What am I doing that hinders you from turning toward each other to seize this opportunity?
  2. How might I step back without making it seem that I don’t care?
  3. How might we create an environment where you turn toward each other to address issues, concerns, and opportunities?

How might leaders create environements where heads turn toward each other for solutions?