I came across this article from Boz discussing “value add disease” as it pertains to leadership, and it struck a chord. It’s certainly something I’m trying to keep top of mind as I step into a different leadership role at Zapier.
Defining “value add disease”:
Whether it be a manager or a reviewer or inspector, people in positions of authority feel a sense of responsibility. Like anyone else they have a job to do and they want to do it well. If work is presented to them and they make no changes they may fear they have shirked their responsibility. Too often they look for something – anything — to change so they can feel confident they did their jobs. I call this Value Add Disease.
Don’t make your team add “ducks” just to give you a way to put your mark on something. As Boz discusses towards the end, the best kind of leadership is often invisible. Your goal is to provide the coaching necessary for your team to operate at a high level and then largely get out of their way. That’s not shirking responsibility; it’s exactly what you’re supposed to do.
Consider instead that building teams that create good work without your help is precisely the kind of value you should be adding. In the times you do feel compelled to add value you should ask yourself whether something went wrong earlier that forced you to get involved at this point.