I once observed a manager who appeared to be amazingly efficient. She would constantly be interrupted by employees who came in and asked her to make a decision. She would do it quickly and decisively and return to her task.
Her director came in and said to me “isn’t she great?” Both were shocked when I said “no”.
Sure, it was impressive that she could make decisions so boldly, help her team, and still maintain focus on her own work. I admit that I would have struggled to get anything done.
However, her skill was actually her biggest weakness (cue Karate Kid music). Her team wasn’t making any decisions themselves. They knew they could get her to tell them exactly what to do. She wasn’t helping, she was enabling. Sometimes, help is actually hinderance.
All businesses have the “what if he/she got hit by a bus” conversation. In this case, her team would have been useless because they never made decisions, they simply got direction.
Great managers have their team make decisions and teach them the process. I suggested that the next time someone asked her a question, instead of answering, ask “what do you think?” After they get over their shock, they may be able to give you an answer. When they do, ask how they got to that decision.
When you coach them how to decide, you make them better and you help yourself.