Friday, July 29, 2011

Keeping out of the weeds

I had the very proud opportunity this year to attend the grade 9 graduation ceremony of my second daughter and watch her deliver a speech to her class about moving forward and not being afraid to make mistakes.  I have to say, it was inspiring to say the least.  What really blew me away was that here was this young lady that I used to hold on my lap and rock to sleep that was now quite possibly inspiring more than a couple of her classmates and helping to shape their futures.

As parents, we take responsibility for our children and tend to take ownership of their bigger mistakes and shake our heads at the smaller ones.  We puff up with pride at their accomplishments, but in truth, it is our children that step up and make the future happen.  My goal as a parent is that one day, my children won't need me, but hopefully will still want me around.

Back in the auditorium, I was hoping that I played some part in inspiring my daughter the way she was inspiring her classmates.  We give guidelines and support, we answer their questions, we challenge them, we cheer for them and we correct them.

What we have to remember is that this is their future an their life, we are just the guides for as long as they need or want us around.

So what does this have to do with technology?

I am hesitant to compare folks I work with to my children, but the common thread is in the approach to helping them succeed.  As a problem solver, my tendency is to jump in and solve problems.  The challenge is to know what types of problems I should be solving.  Too often, managers and leaders are quick to come up with solutions and dictate them to their teams.  Putting aside how right or wrong our solutions may be, this simply doesn't scale and doesn't give room for other bright people to shine.

As a manager, it is far more productive to lead people that can invent on their own and solve problems on their own and simply look to me for definition of riverbanks instead of needing me to pull them through tough the rapids (so to speak).  My job is to watch and listen as they navigate through and make sure that outside perils are kept at bay and not impeding their success.

If you manage people, instead of dictating steps, try setting guidelines.  Instead of solving their problems, try listening and supporting them as they solve their own problems.  Instead of taking credit, give it away.  Instead of pointing fingers, take the responsibility and challenge your team to improve.