Einstein realized that it is as important to see the problem clearly as to see the solution. Many clients will come to me convinced that they know what their problem is and just want me to help them with the solution. For example, many leaders struggle with delegation, and they’ll say, “Help me learn to delegate.” There are many online courses that teach the basic skills of delegation, but people are often disappointed in the results. The reason is they haven’t spent enough time diagnosing the problem. Is the problem that they don’t know “how” to delegate or that they have some hidden assumptions about delegating that stop them from doing it.
Possible Hidden Assumptions:
- No one can do the job as well as I can.
- If anything goes wrong, I’ll be blamed and look stupid.
- Delegating feels like dumping and I don’t want people to resent me.
Before taking a course on delegating, it would be helpful to dig into each of these assumptions:
No one can do the job as well as I can.
Coach: “What would it feel like if someone could do the job as well, perhaps better than you?”
Client: “Then they’d have no need for me.”
If anything goes wrong, I’ll be blamed and look stupid.
Coach: “What would be the worst thing about looking stupid.”
Client: “If I look stupid, people won’t respect me, and I’ll feel like a failure?”
Delegating feels like dumping and I don’t want people to resent me.
Coach: “How would you know people would view it as dumping.”
Client: “Because that’s how I feel when my boss dumps his work onto me.”
Coach: “What would it mean if people resented you?”
Client: “That they don’t like me.”
Coach: “What does it mean if people don’t like you?
Client: “That I have no worth.”
Very abbreviated, but you get the idea.
A course on delegating is not going to help leaders if they hold hidden assumptions that they view as true. After asking a client to have a bit of patience, we’ll work through these hidden assumptions, and the client often realizes that these hidden assumptions need some work before a skill building class on delegation is going to be helpful.
“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”
– Eugene Ionesco