Leadership / Parenting / Problem Solving

Leadership Moment — 28 Jun 22

You can only do so much.

Mark McMillion
3 min readJun 29, 2022


Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Boys will be boys. I really dislike that expression. I used to think it was cool but now it’s used to excuse all sorts of stupid.

One of my teenage sons is playing football and experiencing a little bit of low-level bullying. Mostly small, picayune, nit-noid stuff. But it has nothing to do with football and is distracting. And, of course, completely unnecessary.

We’ve talked about it. My kid is a man-child. There’s nothing child-like about his physiology and given the will, he’s more than capable of taking care of himself. Given the will.

He’ll work through this stuff on the football team, one way or another. I’m not happy about it and he definitely isn’t but I’m not going to solve it for him. To do so would do far more harm than good. As an emerging adult, he must learn to solve problems himself, whether they’re algebra or people.

We’ve talked about it extensively. We’ve examined courses of action, possible outcomes, second-order effects, impacts on the season and the rest of the team. Finally, he made the decision and we talked about having to live with it. Sounds simple but as we adults know, living with our decisions can be anything but easy.

When dealing with employees at work, we’re often tempted to jump in and solve problems for them. Other times, we step in and walk them through step-by-step how to do the process. There are times where those can be the right solutions but there are also times when we need to let them flounder a little bit, to allow them the opportunity to fight through and figure it out themselves.

How do you know when is the better way forward? Great question and thanks for asking!

It depends on the employee, specifically two things. Do they have a can-do attitude? How much experience and expertise do they have?

When you have a veteran employee with a record of getting things done, then they’re probably lost for real. Help them as much as they need, which may not include solving it for them.

When you have a new employee with little experience, then be careful. How you handle the situation…



Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.