December 6, 2021

Successful people are used to being in control and taking care of business. Like the old saying goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself. There’s truth in that. If you care about something, you have the focus to see it through. But it’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy that can weaken you in the long term.

The problem with doing too much yourself is that it can prevent you from developing a strong team. There aren’t enough hours in the day, or years in a life, to get very far on our own. Also, we all get sick, so over time, we need a competent team just to keep things running smoothly. Whether we want to build an empire or just maintain a little fief, we need help. And that support team needs real responsibility to grow into their roles.

It takes time and supervision to cultivate young talent. People need assignments that stretch their capabilities, and just enough supervision to prevent a disaster. Before my son can handle a Thanksgiving turkey, he first needs to roast a chicken for a random family dinner. I want to ensure he doesn’t burn the house down, but short of that, I won’t micromanage. If dinner gets overcooked, I can tolerate that, as long as my son learns from the experience.

At work, a culture of do-it-yourself or develop-the-team gets set from the top downward. A manager who hoards responsibility closes off upward growth. Employees will then focus on guarding against encroachment from below. But when a leader develops his teammates and shares responsibility, a team-first mindset can take root. As teaching and mentoring pass down the organization chart, morale and productivity both rise.

Whether it’s colleagues in the office or family at home, we all need capable people around us. They fill in the gaps in our skills and attention and their unique perspectives can lead us to opportunities and experiences we would never find on our own. A great team can expand the horizons of our lives, so don’t try to go it alone.

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