Leadership Tip of the Week: Lawnmower Leaders

Does your organization have “lawnmower leaders”?

The term “lawnmower parenting” was coined by a member from Weareteachers.com, an online community for teachers, to describe parents who mow down all of their children's challenges, discomforts and struggles.

The concept of lawnmower parenting can be extended to leaders. Lawnmower leaders are leaders who spend too much time fixing the discomforts of their team. Leaders have to take care of their people, but that should be limited to giving them what they need, which is sometimes different than giving them what they want. A leader can’t spend all of their time resolving their team’s issues or doing their work for them. That may help them in the near term, but it will hurt them in the long term.

Here are some tips to avoid being a “lawnmower leader:”

  • Ask Questions – Ask questions until the team comes up with the answer. Even if you already knew it. This helps them be better at critical thinking and builds their confidence.
  • Ask for Recommendations – Make the team give you recommendations, especially when they present you with problems.
  • Be Temporarily Unavailable – Make the team work through easy problems by being unavailable. This will make them work through the problem, and they will often resolve it. This works well with easy problems but not with hard, complex or important problems.

Fight the inclination to be a lawnmower leader and fix all of your team’s problems. This isn’t good for you or them.



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