A challenge many leaders face is balancing the need for getting quick results with taking the time to build the capacity of people on their team. The daily pressure and stress of the business world often makes it seem as if there is no time to do both.
Think back to how things are in your workplace. Is the environment stable and well organized or do you feel like you are putting out fires all the time? When you feel like you are continuously firefighting, you may also feel that you do not have time to stop and teach people how to do things.
Unfortunately, this feeling of lacking time can also create a sense of impatience when people are not learning fast enough for your liking. The problem is that this impatience can eventually turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In this article, let's dig deeper into how you can balance the need for results and your team's development.
Imagine this. You delegate work to someone on your team. It is not done your way and so you redo it. Eventually, you may reach a point where you decide to just do it yourself rather than delegate it, because it will go faster and because the people on your team do not get it.
When you think about it, there is common sense in that decision, but is it what you really want? The next time you feel things are not going fast enough, ask yourself: What would fast enough actually look like? How fast is realistic right now based on the current capacity and workload of your team?
Something else to consider is how much you are demanding from yourself and your team as a leader. In the rush of firefighting and getting quick results, are you setting the right expectations with your stakeholders? Are there areas that you need to work on to develop capacity to get yourself out of this way of working?
This is why co-creative leaders need to take the time to build capacity on their teams. It is an investment you are making in your team. Sometimes a slight change of perspective is needed. Instead of seeing it as time-consuming to teach people a new task, give yourself a longer term view.
It is not about getting something fully off of your plate at the moment, it is about not needing to do the task anymore three to six months down the road. There may be an adaptation period where you let people get used to the new task and give them guidance.
You also need to reconsider the expectations you have of your team. In our earlier example, if you delegate a task to someone and the work is not done exactly in the way you wanted it, how good is good enough?
You need to consider the value that this learning experience can have for your team. Many people spend years refining their craft. They become good because of the practice they put in over the course of time. From the outside, it can look like instant success but this is rarely the case.
Building capacity can also create impatience for you. Unfortunately, it has an impact on your teams and on your organization. You may not realize it but your words and the actions you take may be feeding the problem.
Think about what are the signs of your impatience with your team. Do you feel that things are not moving fast enough? Do you get anxious or cut people off?
Think about how you act. When group conversations seem to stall, do you jump in and push people in the direction you would like to go? Do you take control of the meeting all of a sudden? If so, you are blocking them from potentially expressing themselves and coming up with their own ideas, while also feeding your own story about their inaction.
Recognize these reflexes when they happen and reflect. Can you notice yourself looking for a quick fix or a quick result? What type of quick result are you looking for — a perfect result or a starting point? What is your impatience preventing from happening?
We are humans and these things can happen to anyone. When you become more aware and can see this part of your leadership game in action, you can take a step back. You can choose to focus on building your team's capacity to solve problems on their own instead of taking over.
As a leader, building capacity means that you must also remember what being a learner is like. It is easy to forget how awkward and vulnerable it can feel when you are learning something new. It can be uncomfortable and you need to be able to sit in that discomfort along with your team.
Be open and curious while you allow them to practice. Stay open to the perspective of the learner that you are working with and offer them guidance.
You must also learn to balance your need to get instant results with your team's growth. Remember not to let your impatience get in the way.
You may be focusing so much on getting instant results that you are losing sight of the progress your team has already made. It can be healthy to take a step back and reflect on where your team was when you started this capacity building journey together.
How can you be a better leader by building your team's capacity? What could change if you were more patient with your team's growth?