Picture this in your mind....
You are about to have surgery. You are prepped and ready to go--just waiting for the surgeon...she’s late. The hospital administrator walks by and sees you waiting in the operating room. He’s a board certified surgeon but has moved on to management. Ultimately, it is his responsibility to assure the hospital is as efficient as possible and realizes that your delay is going to cause the O.R. to be backed up the entire day. To prevent scheduling issues, the admin scrubs in and starts the surgery. He’s done this surgery thousands of times and it goes fine. There is only one problem, your original surgeon was late because she saw something odd in your chart and wanted to run additional tests. It turns out you never needed the surgery. Now, instead of having a simple O.R. scheduling problem, the hospital is on the hook for performing an unnecessary surgery.
This may be an exaggerated, highly unlikely, and somewhat fanciful example but it highlights an all too common business reality. Many business SNAFUs are caused by a well-meaning manager or executive taking it upon themselves to “help” the marketing, technology, or sales department only to cause more serious problems in the long run. You’ve made it to a management position, the C-suite perhaps. You have a team and there are probably teams below those teams. Ultimately, you are held accountable for their successes and failures. That means you can step in at any time to help them along, right? Wrong.
Your operations manager manages operations because they know operations. Your accountant knows accounting. Your marketing director knows marketing. Would you want the hospital administrator second-guessing your doctor? Probably not. In this same vein, don’t second-guess your team leads. They eat, sleep, and breathe these areas. They may know something about a particular process, policy, or relationship of which you are unaware. If you don’t understand why something is being done a certain way, it is your responsibility to ask questions. It is NOT your responsibility to “fix” it without consulting your team. The easiest way for a manager to get in trouble is to overrule, second-guess, or simply not consult their team when making a decision outside of the manager’s direct responsibility.
Don’t be that hospital administrator. Understand that you may not see an important part of the picture. Consult before acting. Most importantly...
Trust your team. They know what they are doing.