If you hired a consultant or “coach” to help you with your company, what would be the first thing they would change? What are the really obvious and maybe not so obvious things that just came to mind? From time to time it’s good to get another perspective. Not because you aren’t smart, but because most of us are on autopilot and not thinking as creatively as we did when we first took our position. Perhaps operating more from a micro level instead of a macro level.
I get it. You were hired to lead the team. In the beginning, you spent day and night trying to “right the ship”. You were working insane hours and weekends. You made a bunch of necessary changes. You brought in a few of your own people to help. You made an amazing amount of progress, and then it happened. Things are finally calm. Everyone finally knows the direction you are heading. You’re in a rhythm with them. They know how you will respond without even asking. On Monday, you walk into your office, say hello to a few of the staff, sit down, start returning emails and dialing in to the first of many conference calls for the day. Maybe throw in a few meetings, have some lunch, and before you know it, it’s 6:00 and time to go home. Only to do it all again tomorrow…and the next day…and the next day. Some of you are reading this and wondering what the issue is with this kind of day. This is your job. This is what you were hired for. Right?
If this sounds familiar, consider this. Returning emails, jumping on conference calls, and putting out fires is not why you were promoted or hired. You could explain that all of the busy stuff is important, but it may not actually be moving your business/office/department/division forward AT ALL.
Imagine you were the best conference call participant, report reviewer and email responder in the world. The best that ever lived. Fast forward 10 or 20 years…. What have you done? Business should be about DOING things. Things that you care about. Things the customer can see and feel. Things that make people glad to be on the team.
Though some of these duties are part of your job description, they are not the only things the organization wants or needs from you. They need your brains, your vision, your ability to connect with employees, your excitement, your experience. Simply put, they need your best.
When was the last time you didn’t look at your emails all day on a workday? Or weren’t on conference calls all day? Vacation days don’t count. Which reminds me, when was the last time you took a vacation? Not the kind where you are checking your phone every few minutes. I’m talking about a REAL vacation, one that requires a little planning, a hotel, and maybe even a plane to get there. We all do it. We say something like, “It’s just easier for me to check in every day so I’m not bombarded when I get back” or this one, “If I don’t respond, I might hold a project or contract up”. Doesn’t that make you feel important? Or needed? Or valued? The real truth is someone else in your company could probably do those things while you are out.
So quit thinking you must oversee every single thing. Being a “micro manager” doesn’t do anyone any good. It burns out the best of leaders and frustrates most of your employees anyway. As if that’s not reason enough to stop, there is an equally bigger down side to not delegating to others. You rob your people of the opportunity to grow and of the opportunity to contribute. Often times, micro managers say things like, “It’s just easier to do it myself.” Or “I don’t’ have time to walk them through it”. Make time. It might take more time once or twice but if that person can learn to handle that situation every time it comes up over the lifetime of their employment, don’t you think ultimately it will actually save a bunch of time?
This might be the one strategy you like best in this book. Take a vacation every quarter. Completely detach from the business. I mean leave behind the laptop and the cell phone. Don’t dial into that ONE call you just can’t miss. Be present in your vacation. Read a fiction book for pure entertainment. Sit in the sun. Hike the mountains. Visit some place on your bucket list. You must take the time to re-charge your battery. If you do, when you return you will have a fresh perspective again. You will also be more creative, more rested, healthier, more focused, more likeable, and yes, a better leader.
So….where is your next vacation?