I was talking to a manager who was telling me how they couldn’t find any talent for their team. This surprised me. The manager had 15 people on his team. I couldn’t believe they were all bad, so I challenged him. He held his ground and said they were all “terrible”. Realizing what was happening, I pushed harder and asked a key question, “Do you think it is more likely that you found 15 bad people or that these people have 1 bad manager?”

One of the most common misconceptions about having a management position is that the manager should have all the answers. The truth is that when the managers have all of the answers, they often aren’t benefiting the organization or their people.

Management and parenting are similar skill sets, so here is a good example from parenting.

Imagine your child has math homework and asks for your help. You sit next to the child and start rattling off answers. “3. 5. 9.” Your child writes in the answers on the assignment. The next night, your child asks you for help again and you do the same thing.

After 2 weeks of this, there is a test in school and your child fails miserably because, well, you aren’t sitting next to them while they are taking the test. You can blame your child for not learning from your extensive knowledge, but the truth is that you trained your child to be bad at math by not letting them engage their own problem solving abilities.

This scenario seems absurd to most parents who know not to rattle off answers for their kids. Yet managers make this mistake all the time by handing out answers instead of helping their employees solve their problems. Managers do this because it feels good to know the answers, but these same managers struggle because their teams struggle. These are often the same managers who talk about how stupid all of their people are.

If you are struggling with your team, it might be because you trained them to struggle.

How would your organization change if you let go of having all the answers and focused on building a high performance culture that empowered your employees?


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