A leader/manager is faced with an overwhelming amount of choices during the average work day. It is common in a small business to feel pulled in many directions almost continuously. In fact, that sensation gets to be so familiar (even if it is not pleasant) that the absence of craziness can create a sense of anxiety!

This is obviously not the healthiest environment in which to work.

How does the owner (or manager) break out of the mindset that he/she is the only one who can truly deal with the matter at hand? Become a consultant to the other members of the team.

What does this look like?

Don’t Answer the Question

It is often thought that the fastest way to deal with a question or problem is for the owner to decide what to do. In fact, doing that will lock the owner into being the go-to person and the other people in the company will stop thinking for themselves, making the owner even busier than he ever thought he would be.

To break this pattern, when asked a question don’t provide a solution. Ask clarifying questions. These might include:

  • “What happened?”
  • “How did this occur?”
  • “What happens if we do nothing?”
  • “What is your idea of the best solution?”
  • “What is the cost in money and time to implement your solution?”

The reason to ask these questions is to shift your working relationship with the members of your team from being a source of answers to being a consultant, someone who helps others become ever more capable.
Explain and Inform, Don’t Dictate

Your job is more than making sure that things get done. The most important work you do as an owner, manager, or leader is helping people learn to think for themselves.

By giving people the answers you inhibit their growth. Consequently, their relationship with you and the company is very tenuous. Most people regard being trusted with handling challenges as part of the joy of working in a company. And if they are not given that responsibility, they will likely quit to work somewhere else, hoping that they will get that opportunity.

Don’t dictate. Coach your people. Slow down and help them see the big picture, not just the problem in their face at the moment. Remind them you all are in this together and it is a journey, not a destination.

By investing in your relationship with them this way you make them more successful and consequently the company becomes even better.

A working relationship based on mutual respect is the goal. By deciding to be a consultant to your people you likely will bond the right ones—the most effective team members—to you and the company so strongly that even when another company tries to entice them away they will not leave.

You will learn to live without the craziness. It simply takes making some choices differently

Remember, don’t be the person with the answers. Be a consultant to the people with the questions.