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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Is Being the Go-To Person Holding You Back?

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A big part of my work as a coach involves working with high-potential leaders in workshops, keynotes and webinars. One of my favorite questions to ask these audiences is, “How many of you think of yourselves or have been referred to by others as the ‘go-to person?’ ” Usually, about every hand in the room goes up. I asked that question as a flash poll in a webinar recently, and 98% of the 400-plus managers and executives on the line affirmed that they are the go-to people.

It’s not surprising, really. Most people who end up in leadership roles have built a reputation for being go-to people.

So what’s wrong with that? Nothing at all when you’re on your way up. Being the person who’s known for getting stuff done is a great way to build your reputation and career. Chances are, though, that you’re eventually going to reach the point at which operating as the go-to person is simply no longer sustainable. The scope of work gets too broad and complex for one go-to person to take things over and heroically save the day.

To grow as a leader, you have to let go of being the go-to person and pick up the profile of being the person who builds a team of go-to people.

How do you do that? Here are some ideas.

  • Allow and encourage your team to become expert in the things in which you’ve been an expert.
  • Raise your comfort level for letting go of what you’ve been doing and your team’s for picking up responsibilities by establishing regular check points. (For more ideas on how to do that, read this post.)
  • Coach your team to come up with its own way of doing things rather than giving your team the answers.

Need more ideas on how to make the shift from go-to person to builder of a team of go-to people? Watch this video:

Want more information about strengthening your leadership skills? Read the first post in this series on how to get your New Year’s leadership resolutions back on track. And complete the free leadership self-assessment, which takes about five minutes and gives you a picture of how you stack up on three key components of leadership presence: personal, team and organizational.

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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