Do you feel your load getting heavy? Does everyone seem to come to you for problems to be solved and decisions to be made? This is a situation that many leaders, operating within an environment of positional authority get themselves into.

When you are seen as the only person that can make a decision you become a bottleneck for the organization’s progress as well as the development of it’s future leaders. Additionally, as your authority increases, your day-to-day knowledge about your areas of responsibility actually decreases and you should be making fewer decisions! Servant leaders recognize this and focus on building their team’s competencies and tell others “You decide”!

Putting people in control of their own destiny is much more sustainable than top leaders making all the decisions.  Plus it allows you to focus on what you do best in order to maximize your own impact.

Steps to help you effectively allow your people to be in control of the goal would include:

  • Clarify the Foundation of the team / organization (Purpose / Vision / Values)
  • Clarify what you expect as outcomes from your team’s work (Don’t be afraid to consistently raise expectations)
  • Let your people know how critical they are to the success of the team / organization 
  • Clarify their boundaries in which they have to operate within the team / organization
  • Allow them to do their work and make decisions without micro-managing them
  • Actively praise them for the great work they are doing

Then, as you interact with your people take a “Coach Approach” to your leadership. Listen intensively, acknowledge their ideas, ask powerful questions that will promote further discovery, and encourage them to reach for their best!

Don’t allow people to push decisions up. When they come to you for an answer or specific direction, possible responses might include:

  • What are you thinking about your possibilities?
  • What do your instincts tell you?
  • Maybe there isn’t just one answer.
  • My answer might not be right for you.
  • This is about you, not about me.
  • I have confidence in you. Your solution is best. Let’s go for the best!

Benefits I have found from leading from a “Coach Approach”:

  • Aligns with a culture of servant leadership
  • Emphasizes the unique potential of individuals
  • Provides structure and process for personal development
  • Establishes the focus on the person being coached – not the leader
  • Promotes personal discovery and self-responsibility in solving problems
  • Fosters the development of high levels of self-confidence and mastery

The more effective you are in serving your team as a coach, the more you are able to focus in your own personal areas of strength and the greater your influence and significant impact will become.

What benefits have you discovered from taking a “Coach Approach” to leadership and allowing your people to make their own decisions?

Mark Deterding

He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. Matthew 10:1