Leading others by being a mentor and teacher, not know-it-all and do-it-all boss
As a leader, have you ever looked a specific project or task of yours and thought to yourself that it would have been much faster and easier to do it yourself vs. teaching someone else, and delegating the task or project to him or her? I have. But, every time such thought would come to my mind, I had to remind myself that by doing everything on my own, the only individual who benefits from performing a particular task is just me. So, am I teaching others how to perform the task, grow their knowledge and experience base in order to teach and train someone else in the future? No, absolutely not. As leaders, our main goal is to lead others by being an example to them, by being a teacher and a mentor, not self-focused manager who assigns tasks and then instead of helping others learn and work along side of them, just does everything on his or her own.
If we never teach others how to perform certain tasks required for the job in question, they may never learn how to perform such task and, therefore, never add such experience to the ever-increasing list of professional skills, as even the most experienced and highly skilled leaders and managers, we cannot do everything on our own, we must rely on other people whom we are leading to help us, and delegate various projects and responsibilities to them. We must learn how to let things go out of our hands into the hands of those whom we lead and be there for them as a resource and a mentor when they need our support and guidance.
As leaders, we can still be involved in the process by establishing a set of periodic check ins with our team and individual team members to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to check on the progress of the project delegated, to ensure that team is still on target to meet set expectations by previously established deadlines.
Just like the process of teaching someone how to ride a bike, it’s one thing to show them how you can do it, but it’s completely different and more effective when we provide an opportunity to practice and learn. Sure, mistakes will be made, sure there will be failures and disappointments along the way, but that’s all a part of a learning process. Everyone makes mistakes regardless how experienced they may be, as we make mistakes, we learn from them and try not to repeat same mistakes in the future.
The main point in everything that was said earlier is we as leaders and managers must understand and recognize the importance of empowering others, and provide them with an opportunity to learn and grow as employees, as professionals, and as current and future leaders. As Bill Gates once said: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”