How Solving Everyone's Problems Makes You a Bad Leader

How Solving Everyone's Problems Makes You a Bad Leader
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

A key conversation I have with leaders is this:  Stop doing for others what they can and should do for themselves.  

This means learning to delegate and let go of things that should not be on your plate, so you can focus your time on the 3-5 critical activities that CAN and SHOULD be on your plate.

But delegation is tricky (Check out How to Avoid Fumbling the Delegation Handoff).

Especially for leaders who want to be “good leaders.”

Don’t you want to be the leader who is always quick to respond to the text, the email, the knock on the door?  Who always has time to give input, provide a solution, or give direction?  After all, solving the problems of your people is what a good leader does, right?


People love leaders that solve all their problems.

But leaders that solve all of peoples’ problems will never be good leaders.


When you are a leader who is always solving peoples’ problems, three things happen:

  1. You limit their leadership, because they never learn to figure things out on their own.
  2. You limit your leadership, because You never get to focus on what only you CAN and SHOULD do as the leader.
  3. You limit the organization, because you never develop systems and procedures, instead you teach people just to rely on you

By always responding, you are training them not to stretch and grow.  And what you tolerate, you endorse.

How can you begin to equip your team to solve problems?

Create a filter for them to run through BEFORE they come to you.

Give them a grid they can work through on their own before they bring it to you.  

Say this, “Before you bring a question for me to answer or a problem for me to solve, I want you to run through these questions.”

Then create your own version of a filter.  Here are some filters I have used with clients:

Does this action you are considering simplify or complicate what we’re doing?

Does this decision add value or take away value?

How does this idea advance what we are doing?

How does this line up with our values?

What is the cost in doing this, (consider time, money, effort, return on investment)?

What are three solutions you have come up with, and which one do you like the best?

My favorite filter?

What are the top five things I am always asking you?  Could you turn those questions into a weekly update that YOU send me, so I can take owning that off my plate?

Look, they may still come to you.  They WILL still come to you.  But the problems and questions they bring to you will be more refined, more focused, more wrestled with. 

What is a filter you could equip your team with today?

Thomas helps leaders navigate what’s next.  If he can serve you in this, reach out to him HERE.

Photo by Karla Hernandez on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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