I haven’t posted a Right Words to Say video in a while.  If you are new to the community, these videos are quick answers to questions submitted by community members.  Instead of generic advice, I give you the actual words you can use to deal with a challenge you experience on your team. Today, I respond to a question from a member of an Executive Team. “What do I do when a leader is always jumping in to be a hero?”

Click here to view the video on YouTube »

There are two parts to the answer.

First: acknowledge the contribution

If someone has just done something Herculean to save the day, or a customer, or your business, don’t start by chastising them. That won’t do anybody any good.  Thank them for the effort. Don’t throw a ticker tape parade.  Don’t give out a company values award. Just quietly say “thank you” for the effort.

Second: share the implication

The problem with a leader playing the hero is that it suggests:

  1. a crisis was allowed to form rather than being anticipated or nipped in the bud;
  2. people down the chain who should have been resolving the problem were shoved aside;
  3. the organization has no more capacity to fix the problem next time it happens.

Once you’ve thanked the hero for saving the day, make it clear that you’re counting on him to change the situation for next time.

There are few things more demoralizing for members of a team than seeing a hero receive praise and accolades for resolving a crisis of his own making.

Further Reading

Thank Goodness for a Crisis

What your Team can Learn from the Crisis Junkies in Congress

How to work for a Leader who Needs to be Liked

One Response to The Right Words to Say to a leader who plays the hero

  1. If a leader always needs to be jumping in to “fix” things, it suggests that he or she isn’t doing a good job coaching and developing the next generation of leaders amongst her staff. If anything, the so called (heroine) is actually an anti-hero.

    Thanks Liane for another great post.

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