In a conversation with my client David, a senior leader working in people and culture, he mentioned an activity where he had been asked to step in and help another leader. This leader in their business has a team member who isn’t performing and the leader is having trouble getting the right level of performance from their team member.
The suggested approach to solving the performance situation is to have a coach, my client David, come in and effectively performance manage this person on behalf of the business leader.
Alarm bells immediately went off in my head. I have some very real reservations about this approach. Firstly, it is not a coach’s job to performance manage someone. It is a leader’s job to support members of their team. It is a leader’s job to help their team members to level up their performance. To give away that responsibility is issue number 2. This is a clear abdication of leadership.
You know your leadership role is to work with your people. Your job is to support them and to develop them. It is to help them understand what the gap may be in their performance and to help them close that gap.
If anyone should be getting coaching in this scenario, it should be the business leader on how to close this gap of understanding and performance with their team member. It is not about bringing in a coach to do your job for you.
There are so many leaders who are wonderful and do all the right things. And yet there are still leaders who may not know how, or simply don’t care, and so they let go of their leadership responsibilities. They ask HR or People and Culture to come and do their job for them. Whether to manage a complaint, to deal with performance, or to work with people who don’t get along in their team. There are many examples of situations where managers and leaders, rather than stepping in and leading the situation themselves, are asking others to come in and effectively do their leadership role on their behalf.
If you are the leader, it is up to you to work with your people, to help them to achieve the standards of behaviour and performance, to reach the level of how we do things around here. It is your job to set the vision, to set the strategy and to work with your people so that they can make progress towards delivering on these things.
It is not abdicating and asking, or expecting, someone else to come in and do your leadership role for you.
If you need help to be able to do some of the things, need some help to build your own capability and confidence in your leadership, then you source the help. You get support and advice from HR. You get a coach. You get a mentor so that you are better positioned to be the leader in your group.
I believe leaders have a clear responsibility to their people. You should not abdicate this. If you abdicate some of these clear responsibilities you have as a leader, then you lose your power. You lose your power to inspire, to influence, and to have impact.
It is your job to help your people to achieve their potential. If you give that away, then what are you offering in your leadership?
Take a moment to consider:
🔶 What is your perspective on your leadership?
🔶 How are you are stepping up for your people?
🔶 How are you are supporting and growing your people to perform and deliver?
🔶 What do you notice about your responsibility for your people?
🔶 What do you notice about your level of care for your people?
Are you owning your leadership power, to inspire, influence and have impact, or are you giving away some of your power by abdicating this responsibility and letting others step into parts of your leadership role?
To step confidently into these leadership responsibilities it is key that you build the toolkit which allows you to have the right kinds of conversations with the people in your care, and that you retain the power of being a leader in these relationships. You need to know what leadership is, to be able to demonstrate leadership and to grow the leadership around you.
If you are giving away these responsibilities, abdicating the responsibility, you may well end up abdicating your possibilities as a leader at the same time.
If you need help to grow your leadership so you can work with your people more effectively, then get help for yourself to grow and develop. But don’t get somebody else to do your leadership work for you because then you are no longer a leader, and that takes away your opportunity. It takes away your potential and the difference you can make.
I would love to know your thoughts.
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