I am a missionary at heart and have been on several short-term international mission trips and also have been a part of community outreach efforts locally through community and church groups. Therefore, the new body of writing that has come out challenging whether the majority of that type of work is having a positive impact has made me really take notice. The two books above make the argument that there are often unintended consequences of such efforts that wreak havoc on the economies and even the psyche of the people who well-meaning individuals like me think they are helping!
This premise reminded me of a lesson I learned recently on Dan Miller’s, “48 Days to the Work You Love,” Leadership Podcast and how we often do too much for those we lead. The lesson was this:
The first time you do something asked of you creates Appreciation.
The second time you do something asked of you creates Anticipation.
The third time you do something asked of you creates Expectation.
The fourth time you do something asked of you creates Entitlement.
The fifth time you do something asked of you creates Dependency.
As leaders, the last thing we want to do is leave in our wake a group of entitled, dependent people to pick up the mantle when we move on! Instead we want to raise up a confident, capable workforce led by new leaders who were once followers that learned to stand on their own two feet and think for themselves. So how do we do that?
Here are 5 steps to create self-sufficient leaders:
Present the opportunity: Code for bring them the problem! Trust the people you lead enough to be transparent about the things that are scary out there!
Put Them in your Shoes: Whether this is limited to a brainstorming exercise, or an actual delegation of authority, let them feel the weight of leadership decision-making.
Positively Reinforce Critical Thinking: Whether their ideas are brilliant or off the mark, positively reinforce them for engaging in the process and, if necessary, coach them to see a better path without wounding their spirit.
Partner Them with Teammates: If they are a superstar, partner them with people they can pull up. If they have potential, partner them with people who can pull them up.
Pass on the Accolades: When you have involved the team and the efforts are successful, make sure that the team gets the accolades. Do not let them think you are taking credit for their work and accomplishments.
Zig Ziglar often said, “You can have everything you want in life if you help enough other people have everything they want!” The corollary I would add after reading the wisdom gleaned from people on the mission field is, “Help others get everything they want in life by showing them how to earn it for themselves!”