How to avoid burnout with a change in leadership style

Make Things, Make Sense Podcast
Episode 19
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Welcome to this episode of MAKE THING MAKE SENSE, today we make sense of what it really means to stop being the bottleneck in your team or company by being a problem solver and evolving into a Solution Facilitator.

Have you ever been in the situation where you just feel like all your team or company’s problems are yours and yours alone? Maybe even more extreme where you feel your team might be incompetent. Well, it’s generally your fault you feel that way. On today’s podcast, I’m going to tell you a bit about my evolution from Problem Solver to a Solution Facilitator and what this meant.


  • Issue with being a problem solver and how it can hurt you and your business
  • Everyone can solve problems
  • Having a methodology to solving problems, helps a lot
  • Helping others solve their own problems and enabling them to develop their own methodology to do so is even better

Today I’m going to talk about how I stopped being the bottleneck, by not solving everyone’s problems.

During my transition I needed some key items

  1. Educational sources to learn what being a solution facilitator or coach to my team really meant
  2. Transparency with all my team that I was going to try a new leadership style and I needed their feedback
  3. A method to measure wether what I was doing was helpful or not
  4. Clarity on my purpose and if this method of working was conducive to my purpose and my own personal growth.

Bare in mind, we are talking about fundamentally changing the way I operated for the past 6 years in this business and 7 years in the one prior to that.

To do this I also needed:

  1. Patience
  2. Support
  3. Self awareness of my own triggers – 100% the hardest part of all of this for me and I’m still learning.

To become a solution facilitator I learnt about different coaching techniques, do I want to help my team solve problems for performance or for their overall development?

I like to think that our team are quite performance driven, so I focussed on their development as people.

So my deep purpose in all of this, my WHY as a person is to help others succeed. I strongly believe that together we are stronger than the sum of our parts and by helping my team learn to solve their own problems, it not only helps them move forward in their careers and lives, but also reduces the stress on me and enables me to continue living my purpose. Call it a virtuous circle.

HOW: Steps I took to evolve it

I love to learn, I read a lot, I’d like to thank all the coaches and mentors I’ve had over the years for helping me develop into the person I am today. The solution Facilitator.

In the Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier, an incredible book that I suggest every leader or manager should read, the concept of Say Less, Ask More is really drilled in. It has been a powerful book with a lof of great learnings for me.

Just imagine a life time of being told, oh you’re so good at problem solving, a consistent reinforcement of what actually was driving me crazy.

For those of you that understand personality types my type is Director in DiSC, Pioneer in 5Voices and ENTJ in the Jungian type.

Essentially what that breaks down to mean is:

“People with this personality type tend to be natural leaders. Although they might sometimes appear stubborn, they are very likable because of their high energy level, charisma and openness to new ideas. They are great at spotting even minor problems, analyzing them rationally and finding reasonable solutions.”

So my character is literally defined as a problem solver, and its whats been reinforced all my life. As part of this, I know i have a tendency to talk first, fast and loud, which can be over powering. Its been majorly important for me to realize that not everyone is bursting to talk first and to give that space to other personality types, such Nurturers of the consciousness types, as this:

  • Enables them
  • Gets them to put forward their thoughts first
  • Makes conversations easier and meetings have a format
  • Gives me more info to work with
  • Brings everyone together around the solution

This was step 1, learning to listen to others first, no matter how badly I was dying to blurt out my answers. Collate the info they put forward and then give the final answer with everyone sinut calculated into my own, for a more holistic issue solving methodology.

In the coaching habit we are taught: “The minute we begin to think we have all the answers, we forget the questions.”

That’s really powerful. How many times have you been speaking to someone, and they say something that just gets your brain running and you can barely even hear what they are saying anymore, because your thoughts and what you want to say are too loud, too exciting, you’ve figured it out…. Really you haven’t even started the conversation or the problem solving aspect of it, you have no idea what they are really going through, but you can already solve the world’s problems. OR you might experience it the other way around, where you have barely given the context of the issue, and the person you are speaking to, is dying to interrupt or give you a solution.

So my experience at work has totally shifted, I’ve focussed on becoming a coach for my team. As someone who really focuses on operations, problem solving and was proud of being busy all the time, I have to say, it’s weird to have free time to think about conversations and grow from them. It really took some getting used to, but prior to that, every persons problem was a literal blue block in my calendar, where I was doing 8-20 calls a day metaphorically putting out fires, that was my experience of work for many years,, it was not sustainable and I know for a fact many of you are experiencing this and there seems like no end to it.

Step 2

I next analyzed everything that has helped me grow over the past 2 years and I realized that this boiled down to a few key items:

  1. Working remotely forced us all to become more efficient, I became overly efficient and was working myself into an early grave – Boom that’s my trigger point, chaos leading me to become overly stressed and my problem solving habits going into overdrive to try and feel accomplished or successful when really all i did was not cross out each to do, but split each in half. Every task led to more tasks and more tasks.
  2. Next I focussed on my Emotional Intelligence, which I can tell you was not too high, but thanks to Julian, I learned to understand the fundamental principles of EQ which would help me better at receiving information and not acting on it emotionally, being more self aware gave me the ability to once again learn my own triggers and the triggers of others. I also have a 1-1 with our inhouse Nurturer Izzy, who tells me what its like on the other side of the table.
  3. My Educational material, I love to learn, whether it’s from podcasts or from books or seminars or webinars or ust in conversation with my peers.

I started to dive into the key exercises that I had learnt, I focussed on their purpose and internalized them as tasks so to speak. So although the following are all exercises that get the best out of other people, I first focussed on actively executing them to feel that as I asked questions I was ticking off my checklist.

It took some time to the point where I no longer felt like I needed a checklist but I could actively listen to people and use what I had learnt from my coaches and apply it to others.

During this period I had also been through a course where we learnt about Active listening, that’s really tough for me but really important. I wish I had learnt more about this earlier in the relationship and my life, as I probably would have some much better relationships with the people close to me, and ended others a lot earlier.

I then started using the tools and exercises from EOS such as Delegate and Elevate, I took the L10 concept and apply the scoring to all meetings and merging the 7 questions I learnt in the coaching habit to create new and exciting learning and sharing opportunities for my team.

After each, each session I always ask:

  • What was most valuable for you?
  • I then share what I found most valuable too, to make it a social sharing exercises together
  • I then ask what would you score this session? If its less than 8, please let me know how I can improve and we dive into it.

These facilitation opportunities are sometimes a 5 minute slack chat, or a scheduled 2 hour 1-1. They vary, and the goal is that I’m always learning and growing with my team, but im not solving their problems, I’m asking them the questions that help them solve their own problems, enabling them to come up with far deeper, specialized thought processes and solutions than I could ever offer.

Tobe practice, I’ve scheduled quarterly 1-1s with my team that last an hour each and since I run this with 12 chosen team members I get to practice every week and learn from them.

There are a million books with a million questions you can ask during coaching or mentoring or consulting, you can learn from a plethora of people, but the main goal of this podcast is to explain to you, that if you feel like you are the ultimate problem solver of your business, you are probably the main problem fullstop.

It’s about changing your view point and the way that you help others.

My week is now about 50% booked on a busy week, and its booked with meaningful structured meetings, that all get scored, I rarely have to solve other’s problems. What I do get to do a lot of is help my team choose the best solution or if I’m really lucky, I get to help add the icing on the cake to an already brilliant idea, that they came up with on their own.

Who am I or who are you to tell your entire team what to do? You cant possibly know everyone’s job better than they do, if so why did you hire them?

Evolving from a Problem solver to a solution facilitator is one of the most freeing exercises any business leader can undergo, the output is incredible, but the journey is tough and you need to find your own path.

The more I practice, the more I realise that my path is to help people, so now I need to channel my growth towards service of others.


Summary of the points:

  • Speak to your team, ask if thats how it feels, get clarity on if you are a bottleneck
  • Internalise the idea of Helping others solve their own problems
  • Find the right educational material that suits you to get you there, I highly suggest the coaching habit as a start
  • Execute Personality tests to get to know yourself and your team even deeper
  • Say Less, Ask More
  • Remember “The minute we begin to think we have all the answers, we forget the questions.”
  • Get continuous feedback from your team on the value of your sessions and ask them how you can improve
  • Build a virtuous cycle in your worklife

We hope this provides value to you, we appreciate your time, thank you for listening, please like, share and subscribe and share this with one person you know needs to hear it!

Free Resource

GiANT 5 Voices Personality Test

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