Blog: Less is More
Leadership Journey Levels:
Goal setting can be an exciting time! You are energized and ready to conquer! Your goals are set and you will continually strategize, plan and monitor them.... as you should. You are also open and willing to do whatever it takes... and there is often “one more thing” that has the potential to get the result/s you are seeking. And you’ll often do it without a second thought.
But let’s be honest... all those “one more things” can often be detrimental to the very goal you are after. Soon you will be doing so many “one more things” that you could lose sight of your original goal, strategy, or plan. I would like for you to consider a new proposal for your goal setting..... DO LESS! Consider the five strategies listed below to DO LESS so that you can actually achieve more:
- Work less
- Take on fewer clients and projects
- Talk less
- Have fewer meetings
- Volunteer less
1. Work less: What ever happened to the 40 hour work week? Estimates indicate that many leaders work 60-90 hours every week. We have become a 24/7 culture demanding instant communication and decisions. We wear our long hours as a badge of honor or more accurately as an expectation. However, research clearly shows that long work days do not translate into productivity and good results. In the world of knowledge workers, studies have shown that six hours of daily productivity are the most people can achieve. We could also point to the impact that long work hours have physically, mentally and relationally. We all know this! So the question is how do we work less? The first step is to decide that you will. Commit to working less hours on one day of the week. As you learn to reduce the hours on one day increase it to two days. Keep “whittling away” until you get that 40 hour work week. Not sure how? Keep reading for strategies to lighten the workload.
2. Take on fewer clients and projects: For many of us, keeping our company or career afloat causes us to take on projects and clients that do not always reflect our goals (personal and business) or our vision and mission. Challenge yourself to establish or re-establish your parameters and guidelines for taking on new clients and projects. Ensure that they meet your criteria and reflect the direction of your organization and your personal aspirations. It’s scary to say no to business but brand experts will tell you that your focus has to be clear and distinct. Remember if you take any and all business it could be a negative reflection to those potential clients that you are really seeking.
3. Talk less: As a good leader your opinion, expertise, and input is constantly sought. You are always talking – by phone, computer, meetings, one to ones, at lunch, walking down the hallway, on the plane, etc. I have this opinion – if you’re talking, you’re not listening. Commit this year to listen more and talk less. Try to apply the 80/20 rule. Listen 80% and talk 20%. Leaders who listen more than they talk are perceived to be more knowledgeable and approachable. Become an expert questioner…..not the interrogator kind….the coach kind. Someone brings you a problem, ask them what they would do? Ask people what they think should happen to meet the goals? Ask others for their ideas to grow/sustain business? Ask how you are getting in the way? Ask and then listen. If you commit to talking less and listening more, your will be amazed what you can learn!
4. Have fewer meetings: One of the biggest complaints employees have is endless, useless meetings. And you don’t like them either. I am an advocate for meetings – the kinds that build commitment, generate ideas, deepen the culture, celebrate successes, share knowledge and create excitement! Do you have meetings like that on a regular basis? Always question the purpose of a meeting. Just because you have a mandatory meeting every Monday doesn’t mean it’s a meaningful, helpful meeting. Ask your team for recommendations for meaningful, purposeful, helpful meetings. Limit the length of meetings. Just by cutting meetings down by 15-30 minutes and sticking to an agenda will get great approval from the group and more accomplished. And just a reminder – meetings are a great opportunity for you to listen. (Oh, I am also willing to bet if you listen more, there will be fewer meetings!)
5. Volunteer less: The last recommendation for doing less this year is to volunteer less. Here are some things to consider:
- Don’t volunteer for every project that comes your way. Set your guidelines and criteria for selecting or choosing a project. Your team will definitely appreciate that you are being selective about the projects. Don’t get suckered into volunteering for a project because no one else is willing. People quickly learn that if they are quiet long enough someone else will volunteer – and that is usually you! Too many projects and deadlines create stress and sometime – a mediocre result. Choose projects that will allow you and your team to hone their skills, highlight expertise and create opportunities for growth.
- Don’t volunteer to lead every project. This can put too much time-consuming focus and expectation on you. By taking a step back and allowing someone else to lead will give you opportunity to work on some new skills without the ever watchful eye when you are the project leader. You can also learn some new techniques by observing other leaders.
- Many of us are committed to giving back to our community. Often, I talk with leaders who have over-committed themselves to various agencies in an effort to be a good community leader. These kinds of commitments can consume your precious free time with numerous additional projects and work. Pick one or two organizations that align with your values and spend your pre-determined volunteer hours making the impact you desire. You aren’t obligated to always serve on boards or lead groups. Some of the most passionate and satisfied volunteers are those that show-up and do what is needed in the moment.