As the parent of two teens, I’ve become quite accustomed to The Eye Roll. This ocular straining happens most often when I request a previously agreed upon task be completed by said teen. Me: “Hey, it’s time to empty the trash. Trash pick up is tomorrow.” Teen: “Ugh,” with a healthy helping of Eye Roll.
When the groaning and eye rolling gets excessive, I sit my kid(s) down and clarify a very important fact of parenting: I don’t ask you to carry out chores because I’m lazy. Believe it or not, I’m teaching you life skills that will help you become a functional member of society.
In a similar vein, leaders in the workplace are called upon to help their employees take on tasks that will improve their marketability in the workplace (as well as providing value to the organization.) Leaders who do this are using a coaching leadership style, as written about by executive coach Dana Theus.
Dana writes in her post, “3 Myths About a Coaching Leadership Style” that leaders who step back and let their team members take on responsibility are developing future leaders. “You choose to give them the experience of working through problems, gathering information, deciding what to do and (as much as possible) living with the results. You don’t do this because you’re lazy. You do it to help them become more capable leaders,” she explains.
As a leader, it’s possible that you are perfectly capable of solving a team’s vexing problem. But that’s not the point. The point of leadership is to develop a problem-solving, collaborative workforce capable of critical thinking. And they won’t arrive at that state if you do it all for them.
So the next time you get an eye roll (literal or figurative) from a team member who’s resisting your efforts to help them grow, remember this: you aren’t lazy. You are helping this person grow into their higher potential. Employees who develop beyond their current capability help you deploy your own energy more effectively. So spending your time coaching them is anything but lazy, it’s an investment you must make if you want to rise to greater heights yourself.