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Stay in Your Lane….Even when you Own the Road

Recently I was flipping through photos on my phone and came across this one. I took this photo when I was heading into a zoom meeting. Since the world turned upside down and all meetings went to zoom, I found a way to provide myself with what we call in education as “silent teachers.” I often put sticky notes or reminders of things to discuss. This post-it note had a very different desired purpose, it was a reminder to ME from ME.

On this particular day, I was going into a meeting with a group of people who were working on a common project. We all had tasks to do and as usual, I had all of my ‘I’s dotted and my ’t’s crossed and one particular person did not. No surprise, this was a pattern that happened all of the time. If the person came unprepared there was always an excuse or story as to why the tasks couldn’t be done.

Over the last 22 years in leadership, I learned a thing or two about collaborating on projects. When functioning on a team there are people who don’t pull their weight and there are always people, like the old me, who jump in and do the work for the good of the organization. I realized that I can’t do that anymore. In this setting I am not responsible to do the work that someone else agreed to do and failed. If someone is not prepared for a meeting, a project, or a discussion they need to own that.

When you as a leader jump in and save people, they never feel the pain of failure or the power of struggle. They continue to function the way that they always have and skate by. These people never grow their skills nor do they ever accomplish any personal or group goals. Is this really someone that you want to have on your team? I think not.

For those of you who follow me and have taken advantage of my free training or have become a client, you know my mantras is “Whatever isn’t Monitored isn’t Done.” Part of monitoring the work of a colleague or a subordinate is holding them accountable for not showing up prepared.

I know it is much easier to just swoop in and take care of a task, likely you will probably be happier with the outcome that way. The problem is that you are setting up a system that only functions well when YOU do ALL of the work. It is not easy for someone like me, and I suspect many of you, not to want to move things forward for the good of the cause. Unfortunately, by picking up someone else’s slack you are adding to your pile.

When I think back to why I always would just “do whatever was left to be done” I realized I did it for a few main reasons:

1. It was the most expeditious way to keep things moving.

2. I didn’t want to have uncomfortable conversations because at the time I didn’t know HOW to do that. Now, I am masterful at it…lots of practice, experience, trial, and mistakes got me there.

3. I wanted the group to accomplish the goal

In reality, instead of just pushing forward what happened was that I enabled people to continue their poor habits and didn’t support their growth as leaders. What a missed opportunity!

I was recently talking to a friend about this concept and she said “Girl, it’s your road!” I laughed and thought about that and reflected that when I did a run a very successful K-6 charter school that I started in my basement….a story for another blog post…by staying in my lane, monitoring and supporting those in their own lanes, I helped create amazing leaders. Now THAT is the power of leadership, using our gifts to grow other leaders.

If you’d like to learn more about how I help leaders like you effectively lead their organizations while living the life they DESERVE reply to this email. We can jump on a complimentary strategy session.

Until next time…Stay in Your Lane!


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