As leaders we are always thinking three or four steps ahead. It’s like we can’t help ourselves. We imagine what could be while still doing our best to balance the tension that comes with being true to our vision of the future and the reality of the present. As if that isn’t enough, we still need to manage things as they arise and nine times out of ten those things are attached to people in some fashion.
I’m confident in saying there isn’t one person reading this post who has become a leader without any help from anyone else. While we like to think we overcame adversity, pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps and all; we don’t live in a vacuum. Everything we have done, are doing or ever will do require the support and help of others.
Often times we get so caught up in how we imagine the process or journey to look that we can lose sight of the goal of the big vision. We think there are certain ways things can and should get accomplished, so we put a process or policy on it as a means to police and protect our version of reality. What is unfortunate is these procedures are usually reactionary in nature and after they accumulate can easily contradict one another.
The people who are trying to help you bring about some measure of success find themselves stuck in the middle and ready to punch things. They switch off and so leadership sees the need for more processes and policies. Can you see where this is going? Not so pretty, right? However, we are all guilty of doing this in some capacity or another at some point in our leadership development. Maybe you’re trapped in the throes of this vicious cycle right now. Don’t despair. There IS hope!
There are a number of ways to unpack how and why this happens and what 12 step process is the best way to get out of it. I would like to boil it down to one simple statement:
Make it easy for others to help.
That’s it. My earth-shattering revelation. As simple and obvious as it sounds, it’s much more difficult than people give it credit. Take some time to think about some of the frustrations and challenges you’re experiencing right now. How many of them would either be mitigated or resolved completely by simply applying this principle to the situation?
Simplicity is the breeding ground for innovation and creativity. If you implement processes that rival the size of an epic novel, people will spend all their time trying to follow every little jot and tittle that they won’t bother to think about possibilities. Process heavy organizational cultures say, “We don’t trust any of your judgment and we believe that we have all the answers you will ever need.” Whether that is what you intend to communicate or not, that is the message being received.
Where are some areas in your work, life and community where you can “make it easy for others to help”?