Leadership styles span the spectrum, with pros and cons to each style. If you tend to guard your team and act as a buffer for them, you may lean toward protective leadership. While this leadership style can be helpful in many circumstances, it can also hamper your employees. If your sales reps know you will always step in and make things better for them, you can deprive them of opportunities to grow.

According to Ben Brearley, founder of Thoughtful Leader, protective leadership can arise for several reasons, from a lack of trust in your employees to a need to feel valued as a leader. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we outline Brearley’s thoughts on some ways your well-intentioned leadership style may be holding back your employees.

You protect your employees from difficult people. Whether it’s a frustrating client or a challenging colleague, if you stop your team members from working with difficult people, you’re not giving them a chance to stand up for themselves. Difficult people exist in all kinds of settings beyond the workplace. Give your sales reps a chance to learn how to deal with them.

You solve problems for your employees. Leaders sometimes jump in and provide a solution because it’s the fastest way to get the job done. However, this approach can prevent your team members from learning through failure, Brearley points out. Let them try things, even if they fail.

You make yourself the central point of contact. Do you tend to receive all incoming communication for your sales team and then filter out the information as needed? While this sounds like a smart strategy, you risk closing off your sales reps from the workplace around them, says Brearley. It’s better to empower your team to manage their own workload and decide what information is important and relevant for them.

You leave sales reps out of key forums. Your sales reps don’t need to be involved in every discussion. However, Brearley notes that if you exclude team members from discussions where the outcome may impact their work, you could be stalling their progress. Instead of trying to always protect their time, involve your sales reps in relevant meetings and let them be accountable for their work.

You don’t share constructive feedback. Some leaders avoid giving constructive feedback because they worry about how their employees will receive it. Other leaders avoid difficult conversations because they want to be perceived as kind. However, if your sales reps don’t know how they can improve, they can’t get better at their jobs. Brearley advises leaders to look for feedback that is useful to their team and communicate it in a way that encourages improvement.

Protective leaders may have the best intentions. However, it’s often better to step back and let employees learn to solve their problems on their own.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Ben Brearley is the founder of Thoughtful Leader and is an experienced leader, AIPC and PRINT® certified coach and MBA passionate about developing thoughtful and effective leaders.