When a leader’s work is done, he is done being a leader.

Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help, or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. – Colin Powell 

One of my all time favorite shows (ok, mini-series) is HBO’s Band of Brothers, the story of Easy Company during World War II. 

1st Lieutenant Norman S. Dike Jr. was a commander of Easy Company during the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium, arguably one of the bloodiest and most brutal battles in the entire war. The soldiers never sought guidance from him, because his incompetence lead to many Easy Company men’s deaths. As much as possible they left him alone all in the hopes that Norman would leave them alone and not lead to more deaths.

On the opposite stood Richard “Dick” Winters, the officer who de facto took command of the entire company on D-Day. He was always asked for advice on how to solve or avoid problems. All the men cared for and put 100% trust in his ability to command them.

Problems are a result of life and living, they are as inevitable as they are guaranteed to happen. So a symptom of malignancy is when team members do not bring up problems to their leaders. 

There can be a number of reasons for why this happens. Either they are afraid of repercussions,  they feel embarrassed for the problems they have or they feel that you cannot help them.

The last reason is a major problem that only you can fix. If you are lucky, then it is the result of a misunderstanding, and all it takes is for you to take active interest in your followers issues, help them solve them and build rapport and trust this way so that they feel safe approaching you in the future with any issues.

If you are unlucky then the reason your people do not seek your guidance is true, and they are right in thinking you cannot help them, or do not want to help them. 

This will require more effort on your part, but with time you will be able to prove them wrong and increase the success of your operations.

Just remember, never having any problems brought to you is seldom a sign of no problems existing. So if you find yourself in this situation, spend some time digging around and checking if everything is alright with your team and if there is anyway you can help them.    


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