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A Quick Boost to Your Leadership Efficiency and Effectiveness

March 28, 2018 No Comments

Spreading Peanut Butter on BreadIt’s hard to balance all the demands that are placed upon you as a leader. Many of us default to dysfunctional ways of spending our time and energy. If you know what the common mistakes are and take a more deliberate approach to investing your time and energy, you’ll get better results from your team and have more time for yourself in the end.

Do you work a 40 hour week or are you working 24/7? How much effort are you putting into your work? How much stress do you experience from the energy you’re putting in?

Your time and energy are finite resources. You can squeeze more time out by taking away from other activities in your life but you can’t do that forever. That time isn’t unlimited. If you squeeze in too much work in a short period of time, bad things can happen. I’m speaking from experience here. I’ve had two heart attacks because I was spending too much time and energy with my work!

Something needs to change. To reduce the time you spend at work, reduce stress, and improve performance, you need to approach how you spend your time and energy differently.

Leadership capital is the time and energy you invest in leading your team. It needs to be invested carefully like any other scarce resource.

When’s the last time you assessed where you’re spending your time and energy? Who are you spending it with? How are you spending it? Are you getting the results you want from those investments? These are all questions I want you to consider as you assess how you’re spending the valuable resource of your leadership capital.

I’ve seen leaders make three common mistakes when investing in their leadership capital. Those mistakes hurt both their efficiency and their effectiveness.

The Peanut Butter Approach

The first mistake I see is what I call the peanut butter approach. What leaders do is give everyone on their team exactly the same amount of their time and energy. They just spread it around evenly. They do this because it feels “fair” to everyone. What’s wrong with this approach is not everyone needs the same amount of your time.

This approach isn’t fair to those who need less of your time and attention. It feels like micromanagement. It’s not fair to those who need more of your attention. They feel like they’re getting slighted for time.

The Reactive Approach

The second mistake I see is the reactive approach where leaders give people time and attention whenever they ask in the order they ask for it. Just think about a queue of people lined up outside that leader’s door knocking on the door and asking for time and attention and that leader just calls the next number in line. This mistake happens because this approach requires very little thought.

What’s wrong with this approach is it fails to prioritize the leader’s time and allocate it to the most important issues. It also encourages team members to constantly take up the leader’s time rather than solving issues for themselves.

The Path of Least Resistance

The third mistake is taking the path of least resistance. Leaders spend more time with people who are the easiest or most fun to work with. They avoid team members who give them trouble. Leaders do this because this approach is easy. It avoids conflict.

The issues with this approach include not solving issues that need to be resolved and instead dedicating time and energy to low return efforts. Spending excessive time with high performers doesn’t contribute a great deal to delivering outstanding results.

So what are YOU doing?

When you look at these common mistakes, I’d like you to ask yourself a couple of questions. What would you do if your chief financial officer allocated budget and investment dollars this way? Do you spend your leadership capital this way?

Once you know what these common mistakes are, it’s easier to avoid them and instead be more intentional about how you spend your leadership capital to get better results.

How to Invest Your Leadership Capital

There are four major activities that will consume your leadership capital. They’re directing work, doing work, delivering work and developing people.

Directing includes planning where you translate your vision into individual goals and activities, prioritizing which is turning individual goals into team priorities, and coordinating which is using your position to provide broader perspective to the members of your team and help them see how their work fits into that broader picture.

Doing is comprised of deciding where you as the leader have to make decisions that can’t be made by the members of your team, motivating which is inspiring your team members to do difficult things, and clearing which consists of helping your team members overcome the roadblocks they’re going to face.

Delivering consists of monitoring where you’re tracking team progress against goals and objectives, correcting which occurs when you’re fixing work that wasn’t done right the first time, and repairing where you’re repairing damage when mistakes are made. You’ll have to smooth over some relationships that get damaged when your people make mistakes.

Developing includes training where you’re teaching new skills and building the capabilities of your team members, coaching where you’re building their confidence and their capabilities by helping them understand how they need to grow, and promoting which is advancing your team members’ careers by positioning them for growth.

Depending on your team, you’ll have a different mix of these activities but these activities comprise, for the most part, what’s expected of all good leaders. Start investing your leadership capital more deliberately and conduct these activities in the right amounts with the right people. Your people will be happier, they’ll perform better, and you’ll have more time for yourself.

Learn more about this approach in my online course on leading effectively.

Lead Inside the BoxFor an in-depth look at these leadership services, pick up a copy of the book (CLICK HERE to get your copy now) and check out the book’s website.

In addition to the book, classroom instruction and keynote presentations on the Lead Inside the Box method are available.  Please contact us to arrange for this course to be trained at your organization or to have us come deliver a keynote presentation on the topic at your next event.

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

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