I wrote previously about experiencing some interesting lessons from the Nick, Jr. show, Paw Patrol. Paw Patrol is the story of a boy who has talking pups (better than Scooby-Doo) who rescue people and animals in and around Adventure Bay. These pups range from a firefighter, a jungle expert, a scuba pup, and even a construction pup.
Now the interesting thing about this show is it actually has some great lessons in leadership. Or I have simply watched it so many times (try hundreds if not thousands with my little girl), that I’m trying to make the show serve some additional purpose other than the life lesson of conquering your fears, being of good to your community, and being a great friend.
In one episode, one of the pups gets sprayed by a skunk. Now I personally have never faced this fearsome phenomenon, but if the show is any indication, it’s extremely unpleasant and very smelly. The other pups are coughing and look like they want to go crawl in a hole as the skunked pup refuses to go take a bath in tomato juice without finding some special berries for her buddy.
In desperation, the pups call Ryder (the teenage boy) and ask him what to do. He suggests the obvious answer which is to have the pup take a bath in tomato juice. They explain the dilemma of the pup refusing to go and Ryder says something that I feel we need to say more often, “You’ll figure it out.”. Click. He hangs up on them.
So here is why I just thought this was awesome from a leadership point of view: Ryder does not try to fix the problem. He trusts his well-trained team to figure out how to make it work.
Now he did offer a solution. They acknowledged this was the solution but were experiencing some blockers to getting to the solution. He told them he trusted them to figure out a way around those blockers. I don’t know about you but this goes against my more Type A “I need to fix everything” personality pretty big time.
Trust is such a huge thing on a team and to develop our teams professional and personal growth. Now I’m not saying leave your team floundering or suffering if you see they aren’t making that progress. We still need to guide them as was the case here. We also need to trust them to figure it out. Now had the pups not figured it out, I’m sure Ryder would have stepped in to help offer additional solutions but it turns out, he didn’t need to. After several failed attempts of masking the odor, the pups eventually went on a rescue mission for the spraying skunk and eventually got the skunked pup a bath. Eventually they came up with a solution.
Lesson: Stop trying to figure out everything for your team. Let them struggle a little bit and figure out some answers. It’s okay to offer advice if needed or if they ask but then take a step back and trust. They may surprise you.