Today, during another solid one on one practice, I told a little story around the difference between learned helplessness and it’s close cousin. Learned helplessness means what it says, we mostly learn to become helpless. We work with a leader/parent/tyrant that “teaches” us that whatever we’re doing doesn’t matter, we can’t change their mind, and nothing we do is good enough. Eventually, many humans stop trying. In essence they suffer from learned helplessness. These folks tend to take up residence in victimhood. Not good. Hard neighborhood to leave, you know?
So, my client works for such a leader. His leader is a control freak (most are) and oftentimes damages morale when he assigns staff work to a teammate and then redoes whatever they’ve done. “Why bother,” becomes the cultural tone and it’s not good. Next to nobody wants to tell the leader the truth. My client wanted clarity around what he should do. This was simple, not easy.
My client must avoid the trap of learned helplessness with regard to his leader. Instead he needs a replacement tool. I suggested he work a word change. Learntohelpmyleaderwhoisonlyhuman. The best teammates don’t just lead their peers or peeps; nope, they don’t. The best lead up too. They don’t stick it to the man, the stick with the Human. Your leader is, afterall, just another human, my friend. Stop taking the easy way out. Learned helplessness doesn’t help you, your family, friends, clients, or leaders. Learntohelpmyleaderwhoisonlyhuman is the mindset you want. Learn to lead your leader. Don’t help because you want power, position, or political profit. Help them because you understand what it’s like to lead anything and you want to, well, help.
Learn to lead your leader. Simple. Not easy. Good…