Freedom to fix it

Freedom to fix it

Today I needed to cut down a few small to medium size trees near the playground of my son’s school. I promised someone at the school I’d bring a chainsaw and take care of it.

The chainsaw wouldn’t start. I did everything I could to get it going but it just wasn’t happening. The local hardware store had nothing available for rent that could help me. Next weekend we’ll be out of the state. If I don’t take care of it, it might not get attention for weeks.

What’s a guy to do?

I grabbed two of my hand saws and left for the school.

A few hours later, it was done.

Too often at home or in business, we accept barriers and don’t go for a backup plan to get it done. When you tell someone you accepted the barrier and didn’t get it done, sometimes there’s acceptance, but there is also disappointment.

The thing is when a person comes to you and asks you to do something it’s because they need you to make it happen for a purpose – it’s a task that has meaning. Sometimes there’s a next step that can’t happen without action. Sometimes the action itself helps solve a problem. Whether it’s for a small, private school that lacks the funding of the local community schools or it’s something elsewhere – someone is counting on you.

It says a lot about you, as a leader (and a member of the team), if you step past the barrier to make sure it gets done. It’s easy to say “the thing wasn’t working so I couldn’t do it, you’ll have to wait.” It’s much more challenging to say “someone needs this, how are we or how can I make it happen?”

But let’s think bigger past you to the team (because you’re a leader – you must stand up, volunteer, and make it happen all the time).

How is your team doing? Are they out there getting to the goal and not stopping at the barriers, or does maybe one of them stop a lot?

To lead a team who will get it done regardless of barriers, your first step is to model the expectation in what you do. Walking the talk means a lot, get out in front and model the behavior.

Reward the people who didn’t give up and keep striving for the outcome. Make sure they know they are supported and be vocal about your praise to the team. We all have that staff member that sits down when there’s a fork in the road, and let them watch you recognize exercised grit and determination. Make sure they see the one who didn’t give up go on to succeed – they need to learn and you telling them if effective but them realizing it is gold.

Most critically, make sure you effectively communicate where people have the freedom to make choices without you. You can’t do everything, make sure they know where the boundaries are so their freedom to get it done can ring loud and proud.

Finally, remember it won’t be perfect every time. Leading in an everyone-can-lead culture has a lot of benefits but mistakes do happen. Help people learn in an environment where single mistakes are acceptable as long as they learn, improve, and evolve.