Let Your Employees Struggle

coaching leadership Feb 07, 2022

When I was in my first year of college I had a paper to write. I’ll never forget it. 

I had waited until just one day before it was due to get started. 

Back in high school the papers didn’t feel challenging, so I figured I had this in the bag. 

But here I was, the afternoon before the paper was due and when I read the instructions, I panicked!

I called my mom. Surely she could help. 


No answer. 


(Mind you, I was calling her on a rotary phone. We had no computers, no internet and no cell phones. Though they had an answering machine, the bottom line was if she wasn’t answering, there was no reaching her.) 


I left a message, and then I waited.

I assumed she would call me right back, tell me what I needed to know, and I would be rescued!  


An hour later I called again… 

And an hour after that I left a few more messages. 


Where were my parents???!! 


I felt angry at my mom for not being home. In fact, I was incensed! How could she not be there when I needed help? 


Finally at about 6 pm, I stopped waiting. I don’t recall the details, but I do remember that I struggled through the night, figured out what I needed to do, got that paper written and turned it in on time. 


After the fact, I was ashamed of being angry at my mom. That was ridiculous! She didn’t owe me her help, and didn’t know I was going to call. 


And I was also proud of myself. 

Though it was hard, I had figured it out and finished. 

Was it perfect? No

But now I knew what needed to be done to complete that kind of assignment.

I had learned, and I had grown. 


That was a critical turning point for me. That was the moment I truly understood that I could figure things out on my own and that it was up to me to prepare, plan and progress. 


My confidence grew immensely as a result of that experience. 


There is no substitute for the feeling of struggling and succeeding! 

(Even struggling and failing can result in tremendous personal growth and learning.)


We all know this. 

We’ve all lived this. 


And yet, when it comes to leading others, we often fall into one of 3 traps…

  1. We TELL our employees how to do things. 
  2. We RESCUE our employees when they start to struggle. 
  3. We ABANDON our employees and don’t give them enough guidance. 


As mis-guided as these actions are, they come from a good place. 

  • We TELL because it’s more efficient, and we believe it saves time. 
  • We RESCUE because we don’t want to withhold our knowledge. 
  • We ABANDON because we don’t know how to effectively delegate and coach.


No matter the reasons, when we tell, rescue and abandon, we are robbing our employees of chances to learn and grow with an appropriate amount of support. 


It’s time to refresh our commitment to learning and growth. It’s time to COACH!


Coaching is a powerful leadership skill that will help you create a growth-oriented workplace where employees are stretching, innovating, and building confidence and competence. 

Join me for my upcoming LIVE course starting March 16, 2022, Coaching for Excellence! 


In this course we will…

  • Learn to listen more attentively, ask better questions, and give less advice. 
  • Practice allowing the struggle and giving support in ways that truly help.
  • Build true accountability and ownership on our teams
  • Guide performance and achieve our goals faster and with less friction. 
  • And so much more!


This class will only be offered once in 2022, so don’t miss it!

Register today!


*Photo by Nagara Oyodo on Unsplash



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