Complete Story


How to Equip Your Team to Problem Solve Without You

Avoid being an 'umbrella manager'

Susan,* a client of Luis' and a mentee of Kristin's, managed her team with a fundamental belief that it was her job to "protect" them. Her belief was grounded in good intentions. She wanted her team to be happy and successful in a highly demanding and fast-moving organization. However, her approach constantly put her in the position of intercepting challenges, wanting to become a shield for her team.

Perhaps this behavior endeared Susan to her team initially, but it had other unintended consequences, especially as the team’s scope of responsibilities grew. Her peers and cross-functional colleagues didn’t see her as collaborative, partly because she was often perceived as a blocker. Her behavior led her team to adopt a disempowered stance, and they became dependent on her to fight their battles. Worse, it put a lot of pressure on her to be present in all major decisions. As her overwhelm mounted, her performance slipped, both in terms of her ability to stay on top of key projects and to show up at meetings with a calm, clear perspective. Ultimately, the behavior caused senior leadership to view her as volatile and not in control.

We call leaders who engage in this kind of behavior “umbrella managers”: well-intentioned leaders who want to protect their teams from all inclement organizational weather. But this type of leadership comes with a heavy price for the manager, the team, and the organization.

Please select this link to read the complete article from Harvard Business Review.

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