During the weekly team meeting, work progress of a special project is being discussed. Billy is unable to complete his part of the project due to vacation. Femsy – not happy – replies “Well let me handle it”. Boss is making clear that Femsyis not managing her team; she is “mothering” the team.

(Click on the pictures to see them in full size)

A great leader:

  • Sets clear expectations of what she wants from her team members both in their behaviours and required outcomes;
  • Understands the unique capabilities of her team and works with them to set goals and targets that make the best use of their talents;
  • Keeps on top of project deliveries and ensures that key milestones are met. She asks questions to uncover potential (or actual) difficulties and works to remove obstacles.

How to best handle the situation:

Sit down with your team member to understand the specific problem. Break down the tasks into its components and determine what can be achieved within the required timescale. Agree how the outstanding work will be completed and make sure that your team member is still held accountable for full delivery even if he/she cannot perform the work him/herself.

Reflect on how you lead your team. If you have a tendency to take care of your team and put their personal situation ahead of the tasks that they need to perform, you will not get the desired performance and achieve results. Change your style to be more authoritative. Set out clear goals with your rationale for why these are important. Give individuals personal accountability for delivery and give them balanced feedback on how they are doing.

 Learning suggestions:

  • Craft a clear and compelling strategy for what you need to achieve for each project. Share this with your team and solicit their feedback so that you can answer any questions and concerns they might have. Test their level of understanding and commitment;
  • Make notes about each of your team members. What are their strengths and limitations? What activities do they excel at? What are they passionate about? Try to establish goals and tasks that make the most of their unique talents;
  • Create a project plan that outlines the key tasks and milestones, the person responsible for delivery and the deadline for completion. Share this with your project team. Hold regular project meetings where you discuss progress and identify potential problems. Take actions early to ensure that your project stays on track;


  • Take a visible role, such as Chair in an important meeting, or project leader of a task, where you have to shape and lead a discussion and draw out conclusions and decisions.

 Femcommunity tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.

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