Can “working smarter, not harder” really be applied to leadership positions?
StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)
Of course! Leaders already work hard if they are successful with their teams and organizations. The heart of the question is not: “how hard to squeeze the orange,” but rather, “how, with less effort and time, one can get as much healthy juice from the same orange – and perhaps even have time left to plant a new tree.”
Time: Your use of time is first on the list because it is a significant choice point. You make many choices about how you spend yours and others’ time. Once you lose your time or theirs, you will never get it back. So pay close attention to choices around time, and make good ones.
We waste a LOT of time in lousy meetings. Make sure you are running effective meetings that actually matter. Have a goal, ensure that 20 percent or less is devoted to information sharing, have a good agenda, get the right people in the room, and plan to have the meeting facilitated well. Get people engaged and working on meaningful things. You know you’ve done well when people ask when they can get together again like this!
Conflicts: Deal quickly and well with issues that arise because unresolved conflicts drain huge quantities of energy out of the system and from you and your team. When people ‘workaround’ each other, they travel a much greater distance and these problems don’t go away, they grow tentacles and spread everywhere.
Build Your Team: Build a strong team and support them in doing what they do best. It is FAR smarter, cheaper, faster to take time upfront to build strength and skills within your teams – where people feel safe to contribute, know their roles and expectations, trust each other to do their jobs well, and utilize the power of group synergy to create a result greater than the sum of their parts. This is often misnamed the “touchy-feely” work. Wrong! The leader who ignores this reality, ignores it at their own peril. The fact is, and always has been – jumping to task is just not smart. It takes much more time to clean up the messes that arise, and there is far less engagement from the people meant to do the task.
Delegate Well: You can’t do it all yourself, so don’t even try. Get smarter about how and who should be doing what, when. Delegation is about developing your people through giving them NEW work that grows them and liberates you at the same time. You can then apply your time and skill sets more effectively.
Work-Life Integration: Some leaders believe working hard equals putting in long hours and making the job the biggest priority in their lives. Usually one or more of these situations/needs are in play:
- They don’t want to go home for any number of reasons.
- They think/assume/know the culture and the boss expects them to be a workaholic and/or think they will impress someone(s) by doing so and that impression will lead to some kind of reward.
- They waste a good amount of time during normal working hours and have to get the work done after hours.
A truly effective leader knows how to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time AND keep her/his personal life and overall health well integrated. Of course there are special situations we all need to double-down for, but reasonable is the norm.
Founders are an exception. They often live in, through, and with their business; there is little distinction between who they are and what they do at play, work, or home. Life, for them, is ALL about their business and they chose that life consciously.
The rest of us need to take a much closer look at how we can get more good juice out of the same orange, by being smarter, by thinking in new ways, and without killing ourselves or our people.
About the Author
Leadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.
The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].