Saving or Empowering?


Last summer my family went up in the beautiful Utah mountains to spend a day with my parents and siblings who were camping. On our ride up, my 8 year old daughter needed a bathroom break. I noticed some outhouses and pulled off the side of the road.

As my daughter entered the outhouse, I noticed there was a sliding latch to lock the door, and I heard her lock it after she shut the door.

When she was finished in the restroom she called for me and asked me to unlock the door. However I was on the outside and could not physically unlock the door for her. I told her that I could not get in and she had to unlock it herself. She started to cry and said, “I can’t!”

My mind immediately flashed back to all the times she has started a task and (for whatever reason) did not finish it but asked me for help and I helped her... like cleaning her room, pouring the milk, or tying her shoes. I realized I have spent a lot of time trying to “help” her by saving her and doing it for her. Unfortunately, my “help” was holding her back from being empowered to do hard things on her own, and could potentially hurt her self-confidence and her ability to do hard things.

As I began to imagine having to find the forest service to rescue her, I carefully and calmly coached her to push the latch to the side. As I heard her cry for help, I continued to encourage her to keep trying. I told her I believed in her and I stayed with her until slowly, but surely, she was able to unlock the latch and escape the outhouse.

Do you have team members that you are always saving?

Perhaps one may struggle completing tasks, another with following processes, or maybe one continually wants an extra day off. Maybe you haven’t delegated tasks to them because of your lack of confidence in their knowledge, skill set or abilities.

As a business leader, it is your responsibility to encourage and empower your team with the right tools, trainings, and opportunities to grow and do their job independently and successfully. If you continue to “save” them, they will never grow personally, and your “saving” will be the bottleneck in the success of your company.