“This was impacting his own ability to deliver on his work. So much so that he was having to take work home and work throughout the evenings and weekends to catch up…”
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A client of mine, a Managing Director dealing with high-end customers, came to me with an important issue. One of her senior leaders was complaining because people weren’t respecting him and they were going ‘above his head’ on important matters.
This was happening over and over again in different situations. He was becoming resentful and felt he was being taken advantage of.
The Managing Director introduced us, we had an initial meeting, and got to know each other a little. I found out that he restores classic cars as a hobby. We defined his coaching goals and he asked me to help.
As we delved deeper, it transpired that he was being ‘dragged into issues’ that he felt others should be able to deal with. This was impacting his own ability to deliver on his work. So much so that he was having to take work home and work throughout the evenings and weekends to catch up. He wanted the team to recognise just how much he was taking on and for them to take him seriously, rather than escalating things to the Managing Director.
My client was used to being the ‘fixer’. He described to me how he fixed problems at home and he fixed problems at work. He told me ‘That’s just who I am’. However, tired and crabby, he wanted an alternative.
The frustration from the ‘fixer’, I’ll call him James, was the constant feeling of spoon feeding others around him. The answer lay in creating healthy boundaries. By always being on stand-by to pick up the pieces, he wasn’t empowering his team to learn and grow, instead, they were dependent on him and were losing motivation.
This is not an untypical situation. It is easy to become the ‘go to’ person. Especially if that’s how you’ve always operated. It can feel really good to be the person people rely on. Yet, when it impacts on one’s own ability to deliver and limits the teams efficiency, it is unsustainable.
Here’s a story that helped my client to see the true impact he was having on the business by continuing to be the ‘fixer’:
Imagine a dual carriageway with a light but steady stream of traffic. Then notice a high performance car towing another car and driving at 30mph in the fast lane, even though the slow lane is quite clear. The traffic is all backed up around it. Not only the vehicle’s performance is compromised, the free flow of the traffic is affected, impacting the performance of all the other vehicles in the vicinity.
Sometimes, it just takes a change of perspective to create the motivation that leads to change. This story helped James to realise how he was creating a bottle-neck by taking on so much of the work. And I know too that the same story might not achieve the same result with another client, or even with James on another day. As coaches, we get to know what matters to our clients. That way, we can communicate in a way that works for them.
Now back to James, with this fresh awareness, he committed to developing his team and I was able to share some simple strategies that helped him make the shift he wanted.
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The Insight Team