While speaking with a colleague the other day, he made the statement that he believed one of his responsibilities as a manager was to provide opportunities for his team to improve their skills and advance their careers. I have always felt that way myself. Unfortunately, I have worked for a number of people over the years who took the “looking out for number one” approach—which is not only bad for the team, it is ultimately bad for the manager.
There are plenty of bosses who fear the idea of indispensable employees and would instead encourage you to focus on teamwork. ‘Teamwork’ is the word bosses and coaches and teachers use when they actually mean, ‘Do what I say.’”
As project leaders, I believe it’s important to foster and environment where team members can develop or improve their leadership skills. It goes without saying that doing this requires us to abandon the “looking out for number one” mentality. My colleague, who feels it’s his obligation as a leader to create opportunities for his team to advance their careers has the right attitude, in my opinion. It kind of reminds me of the old saw about how everyone in the boat rises with the tide.
What do you do to help your teammates grow their skills? Do you give them opportunities to work outside of their comfort zones to participate in project decision-making or other leadership activities? Are you sharing your knowledge and giving gifts to your team—making yourself indispensable?