Lead Your Way Out!
By Harvy Simkovits
Are you starting the new year over-extended, over-committed, overwhelmed and over-stressed in your business? Maybe you suffer from being under-leveraged as a leader!
"Too much to do and not enough time" is a common mantra for most business owners. Too many demands and expectations from customers, employees, vendors (even consultants), not to mention your own family (who want a piece of your time), can throw off kilter your well-intentioned New Year's business resolutions (those important "to-do's" you promised yourself in December to get to in January).
Here are some thoughts to leverage yourself better (using yourself to your utmost capability, and better working through and with others) during those high-demand and high "to-do" times, like right now.
1. Share the "water carrying". Does your business load rest just on your shoulders for you to carry alone, while everyone else is watching or waiting for you? If so, then you are setting the wrong expectation for those around you. You will never get out from under your pile. State clearly what you expect from whom, and reinforce the benefits for others to do their part to move the business forward. Note: If you have the wrong people around you, then change them as quickly as you possibly can. They can drag you and your organization down rather than bring you up to the heights you seek and deserve.
2. Make your conversations more candid and crisp. Stop "beating around the bush" with people. Get to the point more quickly and encourage others to do the same with you. You can still demonstrate caring and respect while getting quickly to the heart of a matter. Learning this skill can yield much saved time through more effective and efficient conversations. Also, try standing up during meetings. It can make day-to-day conversations go much faster.
3. Move others to bring forth their best (or point out how they are being less than they could be). Some people are inspired by a vision of what is possible, while others need a "wake-up call" (i.e., to be woken up to their capability and potential contribution). Employ both ends of this spectrum in order to move the people around you to take on greater ownership and responsibility.
4. Focus on what is really most important. Are you clear as to your most important concerns? Stop for a moment and list your ten most important priorities (or make 2 lists in order to separate business and personal objectives). Then do not leave work today until you have made some progress on at least the top two items on your list. Often, some of the other listed priorities will magically disappear when you have tackled the top two. Do this every day and watch your major accomplishments grow.
5. Install and utilize standardized practices. If you experience nagging business issues that continually reoccur, then that usually points to an insufficient understanding of that issue. Also, you may lack a practical or consistent policy, procedure or system to resolve it. Look at the recurring issues in your world and do what is needed from you to set those issues straight or to make them effectively disappear.
6. Focus on what you do best. Are you personally doing things that really do not fit with your best talents, resources and capabilities? The best business leaders know how to utilize their strengths while divesting themselves of what could be better done by others. Look at what you do not like to do, or are not good at, and assign that responsibility to someone more appropriate. Yet, also set up a check-in system to ensure that things delegated stay on track.
7. Take the time to reflect and think things out. If your behavior is constantly "do! do! do!", then you are locked into responding to the immediate and urgent, and not focusing on what is really important. The most effective people (like any sports team) take the occasional "time out" to regroup, re-prioritize and re-strategize. This way they have a better chance to tackle the situations they face with heightened insight, better actions and greater gusto.
By leveraging yourself in the above ways, you can lead yourself out of being overloaded. It takes a conscious effort to slow down in order to clear your head and act on the ideas above. Yet the payoff is to be more effective in your business and professional interactions.