Provide support without removing responsibility

Today, with the leadership team in our Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City) office, we discussed providing support without removing responsibility.

This is one of the five key principles of communication as outlined by Development Dimensions International, a management training program that I highly recommend.

I think it is somewhat obvious that leaders, managers, parents should be providing support. Part of being a leader is to be a reliable resource. However, not as obvious is the importance of not removing responsibility. Yes, it might be “faster to do it yourself”, but it can be very counter-productive to do so.

Ultimately, leaders should be building great teams that are enabled to do great things. Even  great leaders cannot be truly well-balanced, but all great teams should be well-balanced. As a leader, that means enabling team members by providing support without removing responsibility.

Many times, a leader who has a habit of coming and “rescuing a situation” is admired. People may consider that leader highly effective, and possibly even selfless. After all, that leader worked twice the workload by taking over a subordinate’s tasks.

I, however, believe the opposite. Such a leader is very selfish, not empowering his/her team. This leader prefers taking the easier route of doing the work, rather than the more difficult but more sustainable route of providing support without removing responsibility. Many times these types of leaders would rather get the credit of being the problem solver (hero) than watch their teams learn to solve problems on their own (inspirational coach).

Absolutely provide support, but do so without removing responsibility.