What Needy Needs: 8 Ways To Empower Past Dependency

Needy drains energy. Needy distracts. Needy wastes time. Needy surfaces guilt “gosh, maybe they really do need more.” You want to help. Helping too much hurts them, you, and the rest of the team.

Dig deeper to get to the root cause of dependency. Maybe it’s them. Be sure it’s not you.

Causes of Needy

Needy comes from:

  • Upbringing
  • Self-doubt
  • Fear
  • Incompetence
  • Misunderstanding
  • Lack of vision
  • Unclear goals
  • Micro-management
  • Disfunctional teams
  • Bad leadership

From Needy to Needed

Turn your high-maintenance employee into a highly valued contributor. Give enough to help, without encouraging dependent behavior.

  1. Create safety. Build trust. Many needs stem from insecurity. Invest in the relationship and show you really care. Create professional intimacy as appropriate. As questions. Spend time getting to know them personally. Show up real. Share how you work on your leadership. Expose a personal mistake or two. Make failure a friendly topic.
  2. Listen – Get underneath root cause. This may bet messy, and may call for reinforcements, e.g. Employee Assistance Programs, a coach. If there’s work to be done, help them get help.
  3. Reinforce Vision and Goals – Check for understanding. Have them articulate their role in the big picture. Brainstorm together how they can best contribute, and what support they think they need. Also reinforce where you don’t need to be involved. Create clear parameters for decision making.
  4. Assess competence and skills – Make it okay to tell you they don’t know how. This is often the easist one to fix.
  5. Stay consistent – Stay calm through mistakes. Leaders who freak can bring back childhood memories, and childlike behaviors.
  6. Promote teamwork – Create space to talk about diverse team strengths. Encourage the team to rely on one another.
  7. Reasonable Reassurance. Recognize incremental wins. Celebrate success.
  8. Back off – Explain what your doing. Have a conversation. And then stop helping. Extreme, but potentially necessary. I talked to one leader who shared that his team had become so dependent, he just stopped answering their calls and emails. After the shock, I asked “soooo… how did that work?” The team started relying on one another and figured things out. Results skyrocketed.

Simple Gifts: The Best You Can Do is Enough

My favorite Christmas stories are the ones where a humble hero offers the best gifts he can muster.  It never looks like much on the outside.

In Why The Chimes Rang, a small child accomplishes what all the rich and famous could not with their extravagant gifts.  He did what he could, with what he had.

The Little Drummer Boy, “had no gift to bring” but we keep singing about him.  I could go on, but the point is not about Christmas stories it’s about you and me.

Why Our Gifts Remain Ungiven

Where do we stop because we think our gifts are too simple.

We sooth our conscience with stopping thoughts:
“I’m really not the best qualified.”

“There’s not much I can do”

“This problem is too big”

“I don’t know what to say”

“I’m not really that good around sick people”

“They probably are being bombarded with support.”

We think ourselves out of doing.
We think ourselves out of helping.
We think ourselves out of leading.
And our gifts remain ungiven.

Encouraging Reluctant Gifts

As leaders, do we look for the humble gifts available in others?

It’s easy to pre-judge potential contributions. We look for the most talented.

We go to our “go-to” guy again. We want this project to be perfect, so we don’t give it to the woman who would grow most from the experience.

A few months ago, Ben, my high-school senior son came home and told me he was going to conduct a middle school brass quintet.

I was surprised and skeptical. Ben loves music and is a competent musician.

But he will not major in music. He does not aspire to be drum major. He has never had a private lesson.

On paper, there are more kids in his school qualified for this gig. If he had asked me, I might have offered my hesitation.  But he didn’t ask me.  And, they asked HIM.  And he said yes. 

He selected the music, he conducted the rehearsals, he found venues and scheduled performances. He put on a ridiculous Christmas sweater.  His gift was a gift.

Each middle school musician also trumpeted their gifts.   A Blast of Brass makes beautiful music and a joyful noise.

Begin the offering, more gifts will emerge

Don’t let yourself or others talk you out of giving what is enough.

 

Who's Your Leadership Pit Crew? A Saturday Salutation

Who most serves as your leadership pit crew? How have they made a difference in your leadership? When is the last time you really thanked them?

Support Makes A Difference

Last weekend, my friend Julie and I (along with our three, 6 year olds) had an opportunity to serve as cheering squad and pit crew for our husbands competing in the Wisconsin Ironman, 140.6 mile swim, bike and run.

It’s impressive to watch the endurance and perseverance of these athletes on this important day, after so many long hours of training. I have deep respect and salute all the finishers. Equally impressive was the long line of limping athletes waiting to sign up for next year’s competition.

What was also fascinating to watch were the serious hordes of volunteers and supporters for the race. There were over 3000 volunteers for this race, nearly one for every athlete. Many competitors had large fan clubs of friends and family members with matching tee-shirts, hand-made signs, silly hats, noise makers and carefully mapped out strategies for catching their athletes at strategic points along the race.

These supporters had as much energy after 12-15 hours as they did at the beginning, and there were still plenty of cheers when the last finisher crossed the line at midnight. I also know that preparing for a race like that requires additional behind-the-scenes help not celebrated with glitter and face paint.

I must admit, I don’t have much experience on that side of the racing bib. I am grateful for all the water handed to me one the years, and for my cheering children and those who have watched with them as they have grown up in the racing scene.

All these invested supporting players got me thinking about how vital it is for the leaders to have a strong pit crew. Leadership is emotionally, physically, and logistically challenging. Two career families make choices as they carefully balance the needs of all journeys.

Kids learn the importance of making the most of time we have together. Families make sacrifices, big brothers grow strong, relatives pitch in, friends offer support. I have had tremendous help over the years for which I am truly grateful. I have been handed lots of water from my crew.

As today’s Saturday Salutation I encourage you to reflect on, and thank those who have served on your leadership pit crew.

Your Leadership Pit Crew

Who has…

  • Listened intently as you struggled with leadership decisions
  • Encouraged you after disappointments and setbacks
  • Sacrificed something in their career to support yours
  • Learned to cook while you were on the road
  • Watched and influenced your children
  • Been available in an emergency
  • Understood when you were tired
  • Supported your risk taking
  • Given you perspective
  • Made you laugh
  • Understood

To all those in my life who have, and continue to, inspire and support my leadership journey. I thank you. Namaste.

Who’s Your Leadership Pit Crew? A Saturday Salutation

Who most serves as your leadership pit crew? How have they made a difference in your leadership? When is the last time you really thanked them?

Support Makes A Difference

Last weekend, my friend Julie and I (along with our three, 6 year olds) had an opportunity to serve as cheering squad and pit crew for our husbands competing in the Wisconsin Ironman, 140.6 mile swim, bike and run.

It’s impressive to watch the endurance and perseverance of these athletes on this important day, after so many long hours of training. I have deep respect and salute all the finishers. Equally impressive was the long line of limping athletes waiting to sign up for next year’s competition.

What was also fascinating to watch were the serious hordes of volunteers and supporters for the race. There were over 3000 volunteers for this race, nearly one for every athlete. Many competitors had large fan clubs of friends and family members with matching tee-shirts, hand-made signs, silly hats, noise makers and carefully mapped out strategies for catching their athletes at strategic points along the race.

These supporters had as much energy after 12-15 hours as they did at the beginning, and there were still plenty of cheers when the last finisher crossed the line at midnight. I also know that preparing for a race like that requires additional behind-the-scenes help not celebrated with glitter and face paint.

I must admit, I don’t have much experience on that side of the racing bib. I am grateful for all the water handed to me one the years, and for my cheering children and those who have watched with them as they have grown up in the racing scene.

All these invested supporting players got me thinking about how vital it is for the leaders to have a strong pit crew. Leadership is emotionally, physically, and logistically challenging. Two career families make choices as they carefully balance the needs of all journeys.

Kids learn the importance of making the most of time we have together. Families make sacrifices, big brothers grow strong, relatives pitch in, friends offer support. I have had tremendous help over the years for which I am truly grateful. I have been handed lots of water from my crew.

As today’s Saturday Salutation I encourage you to reflect on, and thank those who have served on your leadership pit crew.

Your Leadership Pit Crew

Who has…

  • Listened intently as you struggled with leadership decisions
  • Encouraged you after disappointments and setbacks
  • Sacrificed something in their career to support yours
  • Learned to cook while you were on the road
  • Watched and influenced your children
  • Been available in an emergency
  • Understood when you were tired
  • Supported your risk taking
  • Given you perspective
  • Made you laugh
  • Understood

To all those in my life who have, and continue to, inspire and support my leadership journey. I thank you. Namaste.

Questions of Influence: Asking Questions that Inspire Results

How can we best ignite change and inspire growth, when we don’t have control?

Later this month, I am bringing about 100 folks together to chat about influence. We will create space to share our stories. And take an honest look at how we roll.

“Because everything we say and do is the length and shadow of our souls. Our influence is determined by the quality of our being.”
~Dale E. Turner

Questions of Influence

What is influence?

Why does it matter?

What skills are most vital?

How do we build them?

What if our influence isn’t working?

What if you went back through your life and gave out “most influential awards”?

Who would win?

Why?

Did they have power and control?

Or was it something else…?

Saturday Salutations: Running on Kindness

It was mile 65 of the Devilman Triathlon. My wet hair was strung with seaweed. I had several layers of mud and grime on my face, arms and legs. I was sick from running on too many caffeinated gels, and slugging through the final miles of the run. The only time I have looked and felt worse, was childbirth.

A man began to pass and then slowed down to match my pace.

He smiled, “You look fantastic!”

“Yeah, right,” I shot him a grimaced look.

“There is nothing more beautiful than a woman with determination. You’ve got this.”

And then he ran on.

As did I but this time with a bit more energy in my stride. I finished the back half of that run at a substantially faster pace.

The right words— timed well, can make all the difference. I will never forget that race, and I will always remember the impact of that stranger.

Who do you know at mile 65?

One Month and Growing: Reflections and Call for Feedback

Please help me to reflect and grow.

Letsgrowleaders is now one month old and is beginning to gain momentum. It has been quite a journey and I am looking forward to the road ahead.

Thank you to all who have read, commented, and subscribed. You inspire me to observe, learn and share more. Thanks for being a vital part of the conversation.

I have been enjoying some wonderful side effects since beginning the blog.

I have

  • had meaningful reconnection with old friends and colleagues
  • met some fascinating leaders from around the world through on-line conversations
  • already had several new online relationships expand into phone calls and writing collaboration
  • integrated new leadership thinking into my daily work as a leader
  • initiated more leadership teaching discussions with my team
  • been reading a ton
  • been climbing a steep social media learning curve, with my son, Ben, as sherpa
  • received fantastic support from family and friends

I am very interested in your feedback and reflections on how I can make my blog more intriguing and relevant. Please let me know your very candid feedback and what is working and what you would like to see.

Please click on the link below to provide your feedback via a survey, or write me at letsgrowleaders@gmail.com. If you are a frequent reader, please also consider becoming an email subscriber.