Something I do every year is set a theme for my team. I have found that keeping an overarching theme in mind helps everyone to have a common mindset or perspective. This year’s theme is “Empowerment and Growth,” and the inspiration behind this is the “give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish” proverb.
Too often, we as leaders get so caught up in what we are doing we simply answer questions, which locks people in to what we know and requires them to continue coming to us for answers. Being the sole source of information within an organization doesn’t make you invaluable; it makes you a barrier and an enabler. We are, in essence, giving them a fish. When we do that, we don’t get deeper into our conversations or our interactions, and we aren’t empowering anyone to learn to fish.
However, if we are able to consciously acknowledge this action and take the time to provide not only an answer but a deeper explanation and resources for related, potential questions, we are teaching our employees an invaluable skill – how to fish for themselves. By doing so, we are also encouraging deeper conversations in the future, conversations that go beyond “Can we do this? Does someone allow this?”
In addition, when employees realize they can now be their own best resource, it doesn’t just free up management time and space. It also frees the individual because it empowers them to feed themselves because they’ve now realized they can be their own best resource in many cases.
Establishing this kind of mentality does take time, and that’s a commitment you as a leader have to make. The easiest way for me to make this commitment to my team here at Mid America Mortgage is by providing an answer and a source at the same time. A lot of times when I answer a question, I also put where I found it – I put the resource, and I highlight or copy and paste. While it takes a few extra moments, in the long run it allows people to know where their resources are and how they can go and find the answer.
Not only is this strategy something I’ve committed to executing for my team, but it’s also how I’ve encouraged my team to operate both internally and with the various branches and operational divisions within Mid America Mortgage which my team services. After all, when everyone is able to fish for themselves, there’s more fish to go around.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and happy fishing!