You might be a mum or dad at home but you shouldn’t be forced to play that role at work. But we all get comfortable with certain roles – and sometimes the people you work with like playing the teenage child who will just sit back in project meetings and let mum and dad get on with it. I had been frustrated with a couple of projects where teammates were just coasting when i went on a leadership course with Robin Yourston. It was Robin who dropped in the Don’t be Dad line. It made perfect sense.
By being Dad, I was letting people shirk their own responsibilities.
I had to hand over the responsibility to them. I had to accept that it might take longer but when they responded, for them the solution would be better than anything I could personally implement. Sometimes people who can’t grasp solutions intuitively need things broken down. Sometimes they need pictures to be drawn. So I went back to my project group and did two things. I drew pictures of the competing technical proposals instead of issuing written instructions and the most challenging thing I did then was to set up a project team meeting and then not turn up myself. I manufactured a diary clash and made my apologies, letting the team meet without me, asking only that I was sent the action notes they agreed between them. I got them within four days of the meeting. That was longer than I would have taken, but they were now getting involved, engaged, and responsible for the project.