Are you up to your A@$! in Alligators?

As the saying goes, “when you’re up to your a#$e in alligators, it’s difficult to remember that the initial objective was to drain the swamp.”

What does that mean for you as a Leader? And particularly for Coaching Leaders?

Well, nearly every modern leader wants to empower their people. They want people to take the initiative and take responsibility to think and solve problems and come up with solutions for themselves – with minimal direction from the leader. This makes a leader’s job SO much easier.

It also encourages innovation in the form of new solutions coming from the team – who are often the people best placed to come up with new ideas and solutions as they are closer to the customer/client/coal-face.

In addition it empowers people: they feel hear, they feel valued, they have autonomy. They feel like they’re contributing to the bigger picture outcome. They feel important and that they are part of the team which leads to a better Employee Experience.

From a neuroscience point of view, when people feel empowered, their brains produce reward/toward state chemicals…which make them feel good.

That makes them feel more engaged and hence give more discretionary effort. In short, they are happier so they work harder and smarter – which is what all leaders want (well, those that aren’t raging psychopaths or narcissists, of course!).

However, leaders are often extremely time poor. Rather than taking a ‘draining-the-swamp’ coaching approach to get their teams taking more personal responsibility, and thinking and finding solutions for themselves (which we know saves huge amounts of time in the long run and gets much better engagement & ongoing peak performance), leaders often end up on a short term, quick-win alligator shoot.

Rather than coaching people so people will come back with their solutions, leaders invariably tell people the solution, or do it themselves, as this seems to save time & get things done right now.

However, whilst it does appear to solve the immediate problem (stopping the leaders getting their ar#es bitten!), the swamp remains or even grows in size…which allows the alligators to keep breeding and increase their population.

Of course, in the longer term, this is counter-productive and performance declines – slowly at first, then more rapidly. Instead of thinking for themselves, people start to bring you more alligators to shoot – more problems to solve – and all you see is more alligators snapping at your backside.

Before long, it becomes an increasingly intensive alligator hunting mission, and the goal becomes how can we shoot alligators faster as they’re the real problem. Draining the swamp – the REAL orgainsational goal – is shelved at best and forgotten at worst. Longer term, alligator hunting becomes the core team goal and the organisational swamp-draining objective is lost.

Taking a Coaching Leadership approach gets people to take more personal responsibility & come up with their own solutions rather than asking you and bringing problems instead of solutions.

A Coaching Leadership style makes leaders’ jobs easier, and saves so much time. It is critical in developing high performing, innovative, engaged and empowered teams.

To have a no cost, no obligation conversation over a coffee (or a wine/beer!) and to pick Simon’s brains and/or to get more information on our in-house Coaching Leadership/ Coaching Culture training and development programs, please contact the team at Southern Cross Coaching & Development on:

Tel:          +61 (0)2 7901 5618

Email:      [email protected]