Fostering a Culture of Learned Helplessness
Dive into the thirteen blind spots many organization leaders will battle at one point. In this series, our president & CEO, Dave Mattson, will provide guidance on how you can overcome these challenges.
This blind spot is fostering a culture of learned helplessness. Now, this blind spot I promise you is in your organization. It may not be with you, but if you look down a tier or two in your management program, it is definitely there, and here’s the other thing that is shocking. It’s the easiest blind spot for you to fix because you’re the one who’s doing it. No one else is causing it.
So here are the symptoms, whether you have that blind spot or not. If people are coming to you and saying, “Here’s the situation. What should I do?” Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and you find yourself, or you witness your management team doing this, “Say this, this, this, this, and this.” Now, if you ask them why they did that, “Why did you just give them the answer?” It’s like your kid coming to the dinner table, “Could you do this math problem?” “Sure. I don’t have a lot of time, so let me just do it for you. Here it is.” Did your kid just learn something? Probably not. Are you going to make them come back every time they have a tough question? Probably so.
You have created learned helplessness. You can help them. You could say, “Go do it and come back. I’ll tell you if it’s right,” but when you say to yourself, “I don’t have time to help people understand what it takes to succeed,” you have failed because you know all the sayings. I could give them a fish or teach them how to fish. I could tell the answer, but let them come up with it on their own. So that’s the first one.
The second one is ego. You, at some sick level, want to be the all-knowing, the only one who has the answers. You want that power that everyone has to come to you. You want that power that only you have the answer. Listen, if you want that power, go into the carnival and be a mind reader. That’s no fit here in business. Your goal is to make your people self-sufficient. So when people come to you and say, “Here’s the situation. What should I do?” Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I only want you to say the following, “Love to help you. Out of curiosity, if I weren’t here, what are the one or two ways that you would solve that problem if I wasn’t here to help you?” Let them come up with it. They say, “I don’t know.” Say, “I understand. I can’t you help you right now, but come back in 20 minutes, and we’ll tackle this together. Bring two suggestions.”
When you edit theirs versus create, we’re going to be a lot better off, and that’s really what this is create guidelines so people know where to operate within their guardrails. They have permission to operate there within. If you can get your people to be self-sufficient and coming to you only with the big things, then everybody will be working for what’s called You, Inc, which means they’re operating as if it was their company, they’re self-sufficient, and the benefit to you will be awesome. Good luck.
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Up Next in the Series
The best-selling book by Dave Mattson helps you determine what, exactly, stands between your company and organizational excellence – and what you can do about it.
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