We all love the idea of a hero, don’t we? Someone who can swoop in and make a problem go away. A fixer, so to speak.


And as a society, don’t we place this hero status on our leaders? The expectation that they and they alone can and will solve our problems and make life’s challenges that little bit easier. Sure, we have politicians who present themselves in this way, tell us that they’ll sort everything out and we can sit back while they do the heavy lifting – and let’s be honest here, we’re so wrapped up in the idea of the ‘hero’ that we continue to believe them on some level.


One might presume then, that this is because we don’t want to do the hard work ourselves – but I’d argue that the psychological and even physiological reward for contributing to any valid solution far outweighs most people’s tendency to not want to get involved or rely on one person to get it done.


When you apply these ideas to a workplace, with a leader and a team, you can see the parallels and why then it’s so important to create the right environment for everyone.


And of course, leadership roles come with their own unique set of challenges, including your responsibility to cultivate that environment for yourself and for your team.


As someone who is ‘in charge’ of a team, you’re likely to be leaned on for answers and solutions – not to mention results. The buck stops with you. You’re the ‘hero’.


That’s a lot of pressure on one person, especially when you have a team of individuals who are capable of contributing to the solutions and results if only they were given the right environment in which to do so.



From Hero to Host 


If you’re inclined to jump in and offer a solution to a challenge your team is facing, you’re denying them the opportunity to use their initiative and contribute.


If you continually solve the problem being faced, your team doesn’t get the chance to learn and grow and find their own solutions.


If a parent/guardian always tied your shoelaces for you, not once allowing you to try for yourself, you’d still be relying on someone else to help you today. You’d have never learnt to do it yourself.


So the benefits of cultivating an environment in which your team feels empowered to use their initiative and present solutions rather than problems are obvious.


    • Increased productivity – more likely to take initiative, be proactive, and identify opportunities to improve processes and workflows. This may lead to increased efficiency and efficacy.
    • Improved morale – your team will feel valued and appreciated. This is likely to improve motivation, increase job satisfaction and lower staff turnover rates.
    • Enhanced creativity and innovation – your team will be more likely to think creatively and come up with innovative ideas and solutions.
    • Better problem-solving – your team will become better problem-solvers. Instead of presenting problems, they’ll propose solutions.



What can you do? 


Let me start by saying that your tendency to solve problems on behalf of your team will be well-intentioned. Of course you want to provide solutions, be helpful, and get results.


But the knock on effect is less than desirable. Your team will feel less valued and valid – they’ll feel disempowered. They may second guess everything they do, constantly checking in with you asking for validation or permission. They’ll lose confidence in their own ability to make decisions. Ultimately this leads to low morale and inefficiency.


Worse still, they may stop trying to come up with new ideas altogether. They may feel that their contributions aren’t valued or that their suggestions will be dismissed, so they might disengage from their work or simply go through the motions without putting in their best effort. This could lead to stagnation and resistance to change – not what you need in the non-profit sector!


In contrast, when you cultivate an empowering environment, you create a sense of ownership and accountability among team members. They feel like they are part of the decision-making process and have a stake in the outcome. This is going to help increase their sense of pride in their work and their commitment to achieving team goals as well as fostering the culture of continuous improvement.


So let’s look at some of the ways in which you can begin to cultivate an environment where your team feels empowered.


    • Provide opportunities for your team to take ownership of projects and make decisions
    • Delegate responsibilities and trust your team to follow through
    • Encourage collaboration and open communication among team members
    • Ask open questions – encourage your team to think for themselves
    • Provide feedback and support rather than simply telling your team what to do
    • Reflect questions back to your team – what do you think you should do, what have you tried already, how can I support you?
    • Allow room for experimentation and learning from mistakes
    • Encourage your team to come to you with their solutions to problems, not just the problem itself
    • Give recognition and praise for good work and accomplishments
    • Lead by example and demonstrate trust in your team’s abilities
    • Offer training and development opportunities to help your team grow and gain new skills


For further insights, I would encourage you to read this article by Margaret Wheatley who coined the term ‘from hero to host’ and explores “Leadership in the Age of Complexity” in this piece.


For those of you on my email list, keep a look out for my coaching style of leadership guide, based on the GROW model coming soon. (If you’re not already done so, you can subscribe here).


And if you feel as a leader, you’d benefit from support to develop your ‘hero to host’ capabilities, and more, please contact me:


Charly White

Email: hello@vividleadership.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0) 7889 950166

Or fill in our enquiry form HERE.


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