My Blog

If you want people to step up, step aside!

Lots of leaders I work with say they want their team to step up. Have you ever been frustrated by people who won’t step up and feel like you end up with all the work? Perhaps they say they don’t know how, hold themselves back, wait for instructions, make excuses, blame others, saying yes but not do anything, say no to everything…


It can be a bit like what used to happen in my 8 year old daughter’s basketball team. Mary (not her real name) was the strongest and tallest player who could shoot goals at that stage. All the girls seemed to pass the ball to Mary rather than to other team mates. When asked about this, one girl said “Mary’s the only one that can shoot so we just pass the ball to her when we get it.” This meant the others didn’t even get the opportunity to try or to practice.


If you ever notice your team being like my daughter’s basketball team, you might notice that they:

  • depend on you to solve their problems
  • are fearful of stepping on your toes so they let you be the one with the answers
  • look to you to make most decisions
  • avoid taking accountability
  • become used to and ‘trained’ not to think for themselves or step up


It is like you have filled up the space so people perceive or are afraid of stepping into your space. You need to step aside first. (See: Double Edged Sword of being Smart as a Leader)


Many leaders react to this situation with "but the work won't get done" or "but they are paid well, they need to step up". Unfortunately, so long as the leader continues to operate in the same way, so will the team. It is how the team system is set up. Leaders need a strategy to step aside gradually if that’s the case. It’s not about stepping away (See: Can you empower too much?), rather, it’s about stepping aside, building an environment where the team can step up.


I am about to run a 1 hour webinar “Step up! Empower people to take accountability” on Wednesday 27th May at 2pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time) and Thursday 4th June at 12pm (AEST). If you are interested, please register by clicking HERE and choose the date and time that works best for you. 

My Blog

  • Bust these myths and pick the right talent for the job
  • Is your inner calm muscle getting enough exercise?
  • Calm in the chaos