Guest Post by Dan Rockwell

Harmful help looks like…

  1. Not doing your own job because you’re doing other people’s jobs.
  2. Bottlenecking results.
  3. Burnout.
  4. Resentment toward people who should be helping themselves and others.
  5. Disappointment because you helped someone, but they didn’t help you in return.
  6. Creating disillusionment and frustration when you finally say no.
  7. Prolonging incompetence. Every time you do someone’s job for them, you tell them they are incompetent.

The goal of helping is enabling, not more helping.

Avoid harmful help by helping less:

You enjoy helping. It feels useful. You feel important. But coddlers promote incompetence.

Successful leaders call people to do hard things.

False compassion protects team members from necessary adversity and distress.

Let people struggle.

The goal is useful help, not being a heartless jerk. Don’t walk away when people sink in the deep end. But…

Never offer help until you ask, “What have you tried?”

Useful help:

Help people find meaning in difficulty.

“Man is primarily reaching out for meaning.” Viktor Frankl

Frankl believed that suffering for something enabled people to find meaning.

Successful leaders give meaning to difficulty by defining purpose.

Questions for those facing difficulty or adversity:

    1. Why take on this difficult task?
    2. How might this challenge serve you?
    3. How might this challenge equip you to face future challenges?
    4. Who is helped if you successfully navigate this challenging situation?

Show respect for people’s competence by expecting them to lean into headwinds.

The gap between what he is and what he ought to be…must be endured. Viktor Frankl

Help for novices:

Help novices create a safety net. Don’t do it for them. Create a safety net with them.

What do we need to put in place that will enable you to lean into this new challenge?

What are some dangers of helping too much?

How might leaders help less and still lead with heart?


Invitation for all of my African, European and Middle Eastern Friends:

You are invited to join me for a “Leading With Questions” free webinar hosted by “be more Effective” in London, UK.   The time will be from 11 am to 12 noon London time.  Everyone who registers will be sent a link to the recorded webinar!   Of course this means that no matter where you live on the Globe you can register and then view the recorded webinar at your convenience!

Dan Rockwell


Dan Rockwell’s daily leadership blog LeadershipFreak  designed to help leaders reach higher in 300 words or less. He is currently surpassing a 2.5 million views a year.  Dan also presents, trains, coaches and mentors current and emerging leaders/managers.  And in addition enables individuals and organizations to leverage social media to achieve strategic objectives.


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