Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do Your People Think For Themselves Or Do You Think For Them?

I have been going to those hot yoga classes called Bikram Yoga for about nine months now. I am sure I surpassed the 100 class mark around Christmas time. I felt this type of yoga could meet my needs of flexibility, strength and a hard, sweaty workout. As well, it gave me 90 minutes of dedicated time to just me. Like many of us I also stay more committed to my health and exercise when I find someone else helping me hold myself accountable to my goals. I know I could likely do all the 26 postures myself and not have to go to a structured class. And, I realize that if I tried to do it myself I would cut corners, not push myself, and find excuses to quit early, etc. I enjoy the old adage of ‘misery loves company’ also. There is an energy that comes from a room of people working on themselves while also providing incentive to the others in the class. And finally, there is always that instructor in the front of the room guiding you through each segment of class and giving you the gentle nudge toward harder work.
I can’t remember names of postures or the order to do them, what’s coming next, etc because an teacher is always there telling us what to do next. So I don’t need to think for myself. In fact they say, let me do your thinking for you.
Friends ask me which poses I like the most or which ones are the hardest for me and I can’t remember the names of these postures. I can only say something like, it’s that one posture where you stand like this or bend this way. Why? Because I don’t have to – a teacher does it for me.
Many leaders do this same thing. Constantly telling their people exactly what to do, when to do it and typically when they do it wrong. Therefore, subordinates do not need to learn to do it on their own. And we wonder why, as leaders, we have to constantly keep telling our people what to do or worse yet, keep doing it for them.
Having a teacher tell you what to do in a class where you should not have to think for yourself may be great when there is no intention of me developing enough to have the task delegated and me heading off on my own to do the work. In my yoga program they are pleased to have me continue coming to class and have a teacher run me through my paces.
If you want your people to think and act on their own I would recommend a different leadership model than the one I practice at my yoga studio.