Lead your organization to serve in a sustainable manner.

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From Dependency to Autonomy with “LeadLoom©”: Transformative Impact on Leaders and Teams

One aspect of my job that I cherish is the opportunity to collaborate with extraordinary individuals who are not only remarkably intelligent but also successful. A consistent pattern I’ve observed among them is their adoption of an “open door” policy. As servant leaders, they ensure they are accessible to others, including peers, direct reports, and superiors, even during activities like writing emails, reviewing reports, or engaging in “thinking and creative time.”

While this approach has many benefits, as it provides support and resources that help others cope with high demands (akin to flow theory), it also inadvertently fosters a cycle of dependency. Let me elaborate further. Many of my clients share a common experience:

“At any given moment, a team member might enter my office with a problem—often multiple issues, to be honest—and spend 45 minutes lamenting the challenges we face and the resources we lack. Despite finding a solution or action plan by the end of these discussions, I’m left feeling drained and out of sync, while my colleagues often leave no better off than when they arrived. The aftermath leaves me feeling sympathetic yet frustrated, as I’m now behind schedule and forced to forgo personal time or well-being activities to catch up. It’s a lose-lose situation. Reflecting on these instances, I frequently find myself wishing my team members would show more initiative and independence. A change is imperative.”

Our internal conception of leadership often includes a predisposition towards problem-solving and aiding others, which defines our leadership identity. However, this identity can have mixed implications if not balanced properly. From a systemic viewpoint, if an employee approaches her leader with an issue and receives guidance, the likelihood of her repeating this behaviour increases with each encounter, creating a reinforcing loop of dependency. This loop emerges because seeking help becomes a path of least resistance, thereby inhibiting personal growth in problem-solving and independent thinking.

Examining this dynamic through a systemic lens reveals that leaders, intentionally or not, contribute to the perpetuation of this cycle. Fortunately, being part of the problem also means being part of the solution.

I’d like to share a solution that I’ve personally implemented and advised my clients on for over a decade, which I call “LeadLoom©.” This structured problem-solving framework promotes autonomy and enhances the problem-solving capabilities within an organization. I offer two versions of this framework: a simplified version and a full version.

I advise my clients to instruct their team members to come prepared with a document, often an Excel sheet, detailing the following when presenting a problem:

Simplified Version:

  1. Problem: A brief definition of the issue.
  2. Three Possible Solutions: Different approaches to address the problem.
  3. Pros of Each Solution: Benefits of each proposed solution.
  4. Cons of Each Solution: Drawbacks of each solution.
  5. Achieved Agreement: Documenting the chosen solution, finalized with the leader.

Full Version:

  1. Problem: A concise description of the issue.
  2. Three Possible Solutions: Various strategies to tackle the problem.
  3. Expected Impact: The anticipated effect of each solution, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
  4. Required Resources: Necessary resources for each solution.
  5. Pros of Each Solution: Advantages of each approach.
  6. Cons of Each Solution: Potential disadvantages.
  7. Achieved Agreement: The agreed-upon solution, decided in conjunction with the leader.
  8. Committed Next Steps: Action items following the agreement, documented with the leader.

Should team members arrive unprepared, they are encouraged to return once they have the necessary information.

This method yields numerous benefits for all parties involved:

For the Team Member:

  1. Shifts focus from problems to solutions, encouraging a solution-oriented mindset.
  2. Balances attention between issues and potential resolutions.
  3. Reduces meeting times with leaders by about 66%, allowing for more effective problem-solving.
  4. Enhances understanding of the leader’s thought processes and decision-making, fostering greater independence.
  5. Promotes ownership and accountability, improving efficiency and performance.
  6. Boosts self-esteem and self-efficacy, enhancing control over work and professional identity.

For the Leader:

  1. Makes discussions more efficient and solution-focused, saving time.
  2. Increases the value added to team members by fostering independence and accountability.
  3. Improves time management and focus on responsibilities, reducing micromanagement tendencies.
  4. Enhances overall performance, prioritizing important tasks over urgent ones.
  5. Allows for better work-life balance, avoiding the need to sacrifice personal or family time.
  6. Builds trust in team members, facilitating a positive cycle of delegation and career development.

For the Organization:

  1. Ensures optimal allocation of resources and focus.
  2. Improves team dynamics and inclusivity.
  3. Facilitates better communication and collaboration across departments, reducing silos.
  4. Enhances organizational agility, enabling quicker adaptation to external and internal changes.
  5. Fosters a learning environment, contributing to collective intelligence and innovation.
  6. Strengthens the organizational culture, promoting cohesion and integration.

With these benefits in mind, I encourage you and your teams to test the “LeadLoom©” Framework. As we navigate the complexities of modern leadership and teamwork, this framework stands as a beacon of innovation, promising not just a solution, but a transformation. I invite you to weave the threads of autonomy, problem-solving, and collaborative leadership within your teams using “LeadLoom©”. Test its principles within your unique organizational tapestry. Let it be more than a concept; make it a practice. Observe the transformation in your team dynamics, the shift towards solution-oriented mindsets, and the cultivation of a self-sufficient, empowered workforce. The true measure of its efficacy lies in its application. Embark on this journey, and let the results speak for themselves.

Would you like to see how the framework can benefit you and your team in the short term? Below are five reflective questions to help assess its potential impact on your specific experiences:

  1. How often do you find yourself solving problems for your team, and what impact does this have on their growth and independence?
  2. Reflect on a recent instance where a team member came to you with a problem. How could the “LeadLoom©” framework have altered the outcome of that interaction?
  3. Consider the balance between providing support and fostering dependency. Where does your current leadership style fall within this spectrum?
  4. Imagine a team that approaches challenges with a solution-oriented mindset, equipped with the tools and confidence to solve problems independently. How would this shift affect your role as a leader and the overall performance of your team?
  5. In what ways can “LeadLoom©” serve as a catalyst for enhancing the problem-solving skills and autonomy of your team members?

#LeadLoom #LeadershipInnovation #AutonomyEmpowerment #SolutionCrafting #StrategicThinking #TeamworkTransformation #ProblemSolvingSkills #EmpoweredTeams #StrategicLeadership #CollaborativeSolutions #OrganizationalGrowth #SystemicLeadership #SystemicThinking #SystemicIntelligence #CollectiveIntelligence #LeadershipDevelopment

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