It is said that the quickest way to discourage someone, is to ask them to do something, and not provide them the necessary resources to accomplish it.
Use backward design: make sure you know & share the criteria of what you are asking them to do, and that you have the ressources available. THEN ask them to do it.
As a leader, investing your time in backward design can provide you with a huge ROI (return on investment). Think back to a time when you asked your team to accomplish something, only to be scratching your head 2 weeks later wondering why it isn’t done yet. Did you provide the necessary ressources that would allow them to succeed ? Had you invested more time in doing this, would the outcome have been different ?
This is the type of questions leaders should be asking themselves on a regular basis. We can actually boil it down to this: where do you need to focus your energy in order to get the biggest ROI ?
Start With YOU
A good place to start is much closer than you think: yourself. Often times, people will tell you that you need to work on your weaknesses in order to improve. I am not convinced of this.
Don’t work on your weaknesses: work on your strengths instead.
Let’s say you decide to focus on an area of weakness. On a scale of 1 to 10, that particular skill (weakness) might be sitting at a 3. By working very hard and investing time, you might reach a 4, or maybe a 5 at best. But because this is an area of weakness, that might be the highest level you will reach, which is still below average.
Now let’s say you focus on improving on a strength. For that particular skill, you might be sitting at a 6. By investing energy and time, you might reach a 7, 8, or maybe even a 9. I don’t know about you, but that is much closer to a 10 than a 4 or 5.
This quote from Frank Lloyd Wright really resonates with me. When I think about where I need to invest my energy, I think “Less is more”. I always want to make sure that I am not spreading myself too thin. Leaders need to dive deep, not shallow. That is how we get things done. Have you ever felt like you just never stopped all day, but at the end, you didn’t accomplish very much ? That is the feeling diving shallow will give you. When we are trying to accomplish too many things at once, we usually end up feeling unsatisfied, like we didn’t get much done.
Try focussing on less, but dive deep. Investing your time and energy this way will give you the best ROI. Now I will be the first to admit that this is not easy to do. As a leader, things are constantly coming at you. I still struggle with high demands, and the never ending “to-do” list. How many times have we heard someone say “I know your plate is full, but…”. Sometimes, we need to put our foot down, and just say no. As leaders, we need to be intentional on where we will invest our energy. If your plate is full, and you want to add something to it, then commit to removing something from it.
“When more is too much, less is more.” Now isn’t that the truth ?