As a manager, your boss expects you to get things done and keep your employees motivated and performing.\u00a0Your employees expect you to look out for them and buffer them from the b.s.\nTo be a \u201cgood\u201d manager of people it\u2019s understood that you are responsible for motivating your employees, for guiding them through rough patches, for being there when they need you and particularly to answer their questions. This is great until your good intentions make them more dependent on you than you intended.\nGood intentions sometimes lead to painful outcomes\nEarly in my career I worked with Aaron, who desperately wanted to be promoted. He asked me to help him. We identified the skills and experiences needed for him to become promotion material.\nOver time I noticed he didn\u2019t want to put in the work. I couldn\u2019t get through to him. He had the skills and talent. It\u2019s not like he wasn\u2019t capable. But he didn\u2019t want to earn the promotion.\nAfter work one day I was mulling this over and it occurred to me that Aaron was probably\u00a0not at home thinking about this.\nThat\u2019s the moment I had my \u201cempowered\u201d manager epiphany. It stopped me in my tracks about putting more effort into this than he was.\nPut the responsibility back\u00a0where it belongs\nAaron was\u00a0ticked off at me. Our discussions consisted of him complaining about the \u201cunfairness of the process.\u201d I stopped trying to convince him otherwise. I reminded him of what he needed to do to advance.\nAre you devoting more effort to their advancement or improvement than they are? It\u2019s a red flag. Stop it.\nIt\u2019s the oxygen mask on the airplane thing\nYou may yearn for the magic formula to create more initiative and motivation in your employees. The real deal is this:\n\n\u201cThe first and most important person to empower is yourself.\u201c\n\nAs long as you are trying to get others motivated and neglect your own needs, it will be an uphill battle.\u00a0Convincing, persuading and coaxing only go so far. What if your discussions with your employees included curiosity,\u00a0inquiry, checking your assumptions and genuine listening?\u00a0\nWhen you\u00a0empower yourself you see more options to manage the position you are in, especially when it comes to leading your employees to choose more empowerment for themselves.\u00a0\nHold them accountable and be on their side at the same time\nHolding them accountable doesn\u2019t mean you abandon the under-performer or the \u201cproblem employee\u201d or the ones like Aaron, who have aspirations but no intention of putting in the work. As I did with Aaron, get clear with them about their responsibilities and the consequences of their choices. Remind them at opportune moments.\nYou will both come away with\u00a0a stronger understanding and comfort with who does what. They'll grow\u00a0a less dependent and more effective.\u00a0You will begin to experiment with new ways of responding.\u00a0You will have more time for those who are willing to work on themselves.\nYou will embody the confidence and competence that comes from knowing what works and setting limits. You will\u00a0create an environment that allows everyone to be human, to learn and to grow.