Can We Do the Greatest Harm With the Best of Intentions? by Liz Wiseman

Can We Do the Greatest Harm With the Best of Intentions?

Today's guest blog is written by Liz Wiseman, the author of the WSJ bestseller Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter and co-author of The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools.

Is it possible that leaders inflict their greatest damage with the best of intentions? Consider the case of a well-meaning, helpful principal.

Sally, a veteran principal, was responsible for submitting a critical application that would determine her school's status as a Blue Ribbon school. She dove into the briefing documents to get a thorough understanding of the analysis that would need to get done. Realizing that the project was significant, she decided to involve her assistant principal, giving him full ownership of the analysis.

Marcus was relatively new to his role, but he was thorough and insightful. Sally wanted him to be successful, so she carefully planned the handoff. She met with him, reviewed the report specifications with him, told him he would be in charge, and laid out clear expectations for what needed to get done. Sally then began working on other elements of the report and waited for Marcus to send over the data analysis. When he hadn't sent it two days later, she suspected he was struggling and, wanting to help him, sent him more instructions. Again, she didn't hear much from him. She stopped by his desk to see if he had finished it. He hadn't.

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