It feels to me like an important challenges facing leaders is discerning what to jump into and what to stay out of. Oh, and everybody is a leader.
When I say “what to jump into and what to stay out of” I don’t mean what to say yes or no to. I mean which conflicts to engage and which to let go, which situations into which to insert yourself and which to watch at a distance. These are important discernments, because we can make things worse both by jumping in and staying out.
Jump in and you immediately alter the dynamics of what’s happening and the work being done. You may quell a conflict today, but when it recurs next week what growth have you actually promoted?
Stay out and somebody could get hurt, perhaps irrevocably. Letting people work it out for themselves sometimes ignores the superiority of some parties’ working-it-out tools. In the name of “fairness,” you could be withholding important insight and influence.
It’s not always how a leader intervenes that makes the difference. It’s also how she chooses whether to intervene or not in the first place.