We teach people how to treat us.

This is especially harmful when we throw on our hero cape and step in front of a natural consequence which is about to occur for someone else.

First Scenario:

Rainstorm is about to arrive and the bikes are outside.

  • Thought Process: It’s so much easier for you to put them in the garage rather than yell for your child to do so.
  • Conditioned response: Child learns not to worry because Mom will take care of it.
  • Long-term consequence: The child may never learn to the value of his belongings.
  • Longer term consequence: Eventually Mom gets resentful and critical; child becomes dependent or disdainful and a barrier is erected in the relationship.

Second Scenario:

Rainstorm is about to arrive and the bikes are outside.

  • Thought Process: You support your child by reminding him that his bike should be put into the garage.
  • Response: Child does not take accountable action.
  • Consequence: Bike is rained on, may rust and may be unusable.
  • Long-term consequence: Child lives with the consequence of his inaction and, hopefully, learns from the loss.
  • Longer term consequence: Child learns to take care of things that he cares about without relying on Mom.

Why the parenting lesson?

From a leadership perspective, it’s important to see where you are conditioning your followers by your own action or inaction. Conditioned behavior is usually a trained response to certain situations or stimuli that becomes virtually automatic.

If they always come to you for approval, are they being conditioned for reliance?
If they continually fail to achieve goals and objectives, are they being conditioned for a tacit approval that accountability is not required?

If you find you have more decisions on your plate day after day, have your employees been conditioned to not think through critical outcomes and rather rely on your brain, not theirs?

If any of this sounds familiar to you, I ask you to take a look at the behavior you are tolerating, turning a blind eye to, reluctant to confront, or unwilling to let go of in yourself. Remember, you teach others how to treat you – even if that behavior you are teaching is reliance.

It’s lonely at the top if you don’t involve others. Emotionally Intelligent Leaders insist on accountability and let go of the reigns often.

Take off the hero cape – that darn cape is slapping you in the face.