After many years of hard work building a positive reputation, Jules and her team were suddenly struggling to keep up with customer demand for their services. As the client relationship manager, Jules met with customers to identify their specifications and report back to the development team. She also managed all communications with the client during testing and implementation.
After Jules shared this story with me during our coaching session, I asked her to tell me more about the work that kept her on her computer late into the night. She stated that she reviewed the team's work before implementation. When she found issues, she felt compelled to correct everything herself because the deadline was looming, and she didn't want to risk being late. From her point of view, the time required to explain the needed changes to someone on her team took longer than the time for her to do the work herself.
This repeated decision becomes a trap, however, because it robs her team of the opportunity to learn about their mistakes. Jules is missing the teachable moment with her team. She is leaving on the table the possibility to increase the capability of the organization. Instead of growing with her, their knowledge deficit widens and keeps them trapped in the cycle of not delivering to Jules' expectations.
Breaking free of the hero's trap is tricky and requires a commitment to change by everyone involved. Through our coaching conversations, Jules identified that she wanted to don her hero's cape to empower her team rather than rescue their work.
Jules had to let go of her self-image as the person who delivered for the customer. Now she was responsible for creating, maintaining, and growing an organization that shared ownership for that customer experience. As Jules embraced her new role, she watched her team step up and thrive.