Doing nothing can make you an exceptional leader

The job of any leader is to remove obstacles and secure resources for the implementation of ideas that create value for the organisation.  Effective leadership is ensuring this happens in the background, allowing teams to get on with getting things done. The balancing act is deciding when to step in and act, and when not to.

A leader will be presented with a range of ideas, plans, projects, and strategies; big and small, both formally and informally.  The decision is whether to intervene when reviewing these. If the concept has flaws then it is appropriate to be involved, as this could pose a risk to the business. However, if the intervention will not offer significant value it would be better to do nothing: A leader needs to balance the value added by his intervention against the deflation of the person seeing his idea changed.  

The job of a leader is to keep staff motivated and one way to do this is ensure they are inspired by driving their ideas. Making changes could tip the project into becoming the leader’s project, losing the inspiration and accountability of the idea owner. Employees that are accountable and in control of their own projects will implement far more effectively.  It lets them feel respected, responsible, and valued as a part of the team.

Before making an intervention, a leader should consider the following questions.

  • Would my contribution add considerable value? Could my comment deflate the idea owner?    
  • Does the idea pose a significant risk to the organisation? Would my involvement as a leader circumvent this risk?
  • Am I able to point out areas of concern without deflating the owner? This could be in the form of questions to see how much thought had been put into concerned areas;Have you thought of this?’ ‘What will you do if that happens?’
  • Am I able to offer guidance which could help improve in areas of concern? This could be by suggesting seeking additional advice from another source, department, consultant etc.
  • Would my involvement reduce the responsibility of the project owner? Responsibility drives enthusiasm and accountability, which could make the difference between the success and failure of an otherwise sound project.
  • Does my intervention hinder action? Action creates a positive euphoria and knock on effect for more things to happen, leading to success.
  • Can I do nothing? Doing nothing will ensure accountability in employees, however the “do nothing” option is not risk free.  When implementing many projects some percentage will fail and one should not be afraid of failure. When failure is due to outside circumstances stand by your people and share in the responsibility.  

Remember as a successful leader, doing nothing, if well considered, can be a highly effective option. 

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