I was coaching a new team lead at a startup yesterday, and he brought up a challenge I think probably affects many teams: how do you deal with being blocked waiting for a decision about day-to-day work from the person you report to?
This happens because nobody likes being negatively surprised. Especially in a startup that is going through many growing pains, there are many fears, not the least of which is the fear of losing control.
(Control itself is an illusion, but that’s a separate topic.)
These managers want to be in the loop and know what’s going on. What they’re afraid of is things going sideways and getting blindsided, when they could’ve prevented it somehow.
This is a reasonable concern. Senior leaders in any org have a different perspective than other people, because they are seeing everything. They can often spot problems from their perspective that someone directly involved with the work can’t. These are often integration problems or long-range implications that aren’t obvious in the moment.
Usually, these people don’t have all the information needed anyway and are ultimately going to push the decision back to the people closest to the work involved.
They just want to be in the loop, know what’s happening, and be able to contribute thinking and guidance if they see something that isn’t working or if they have a different perspective from their vantage point.
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