Excellence in leadership and parenting are both very hard.
Our deep desire to support and help people, and to do what we can to prevent them experiencing massive pain or injury is hardwired into who we are.
At the same time, the School of Hard Knocks can be one of the best sources of accelerated education.
Whether a toddler, a teenager or a junior manager, sometimes we can actually speed up people’s learning and growth by stepping back and letting them fall. That’s better than being a helicopter leader who swoops in too early, and too often, saving people from themselves. And sometimes you can’t prevent it, anyway.
Now, some of us are pretty good at falling and getting mud on our faces. I’m one of those. In fact, have a guideline that I need to make a couple of big mistakes every month; otherwise, I’m holding back too much.
That said, I still notice I sometimes want to hold people back from learning some of their own lessons. As a coach and a leader, there are things that I know and see that that are valuable discussions to have with people when they’re heading down a wrong road.
And sometimes, people are determined to try something that may seem illogical to us. So, we need to accept their need to test the idea, and to learn their lessons, firsthand.
And sometimes things we don’t believe can work can actually work out amazingly well.
“Failure is not when you make a mistake. That’s falling. Failure is when something doesn’t go right, and you give up forever.”
Saving People from Themselves is Bad for Growth
Not learning to fail, I think, can be bad for the soul and bad for growth. When people are afraid to take a risk – to fall or fail (temporarily) and to make mistakes:
- They are less likely to have accountability for their own actions
- They won’t have confidence that they can bounce back
- They always look for someone to save them or bail them out.
From all the CEOs and executives that I’ve worked with, over the years, I learned that they learn a little from succeeding and a lot from failing.
They learned more from working their way out of really challenging situations, and then reflecting on why something didn’t work. This helps them to do better next time.
- Are you a helicopter leader saving people from themselves or are you a leader who is more likely to let people fall?
- What can you do to create an environment where people learn accountability for their own decisions – where they continually build more confidence, competence and grow as an individual or leader?
CEOs typically place their first call to Coach Kevin with a crisis to solve. They stay because of his business acumen and no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-it-is style.
Kevin’s career spans 20 years, over a dozen countries and four continents. He’s worked with hundreds of CEOs and executives, helping them to break through business challenges, grow their companies and find personal success along the way.
These experiences inspired Kevin’s book, Your Oxygen Mask First, in which he reveals the 17 habits every leader must know to transcend the perils of success, and achieve even more.
About Lawrence & Co:
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