When you think about the role of leaders, there are a broad range of responsibilities, providing technical guidance/expertise and activities that leaders need to do. Unfortunately, the response of “busy” is all too common when asking leaders how they are. Often leaders can feel overwhelmed with all the stuff they need to do and how this gets in the way of being a people-focused leader.

It’s often the case of leaders to stay in the notion of busy, especially when using the momentum of the busyness to keep all the plates spinning. However as Peter Drucker famously said, There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

At the core, leadership is about giving a damn about the people you lead and demonstrating this through day to day leadership activities. There is a different way to do things that will achieve a bigger and more effective impact in your leadership – it’s about doing less. It’s about breaking the busyness cycle, taking time to plan, focus on what’s important and what provides the most value in your role. 

A leading real estate agency, PRD Newcastle & Lake Macquarie, I’ve had the privilege to work with, has a company value to help people focus on all that they do. HABU – Highest And Best Use. It’s an ongoing mindset and approach of considering, is this providing the highest value? Is this the best use of my time and energy? If not, let’s explore the options and alternatives.

Leaders can also explore Professor Sidney Dekker’s concept of asking their team, “What’s the stupidest thing you have to do?” This simple and powerful question opens up the conversation around what is not effective or frustrating in a role or task, and actually do something about it. It provides opportunities for the team to be more effective by doing less (removing waste, excess tasks/paperwork/reporting, duplication, ineffective meetings). Additionally it can highlight where team members don’t understand the context or why for a task, which is also an important part of leadership.

Key strategies to be more effective by doing less include…

  • HABU – Pause, reflect and plan on a weekly basis. How much of my past week was in my HABU? What is filling this week that could take me away from my HABU?
  • Improved delegation – Be mindful when assigning tasks in team and project meetings that you aren’t removing the opportunity for your team to develop and are taking on all of the actions.
  • Conscious leadership – analyse your daily tasks. Are you doing these by habit or by necessity?
  • Break the hero mentality (rushing in and solving the problem for the team). Coach them to improve their capability and problem solving.
  • Set boundaries with your time & energy. Book time in your own calendar for your reflection, planning, learning and lunch breaks.
  • Constructively challenge meeting attendance – Do I need to be here? Is this the best use of my time? Are we clear and aligned in the outcomes? Could a team member attend instead to support their development?
  • Clarity – Regularly revisit the big picture and ask yourself, am what I’m working on right now aligns with this?

Graham Allcott’s book, How to be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do is a fantastic resource for leaders and as Graham says “Realize that you’ll never get everything done. That’s not the game any more. Be safe in the knowledge that you’re in control, selecting the right things to do, and that you’re doing as much as one human being possibly can.” 

This is excerpt from a conversation in the Leaders Who Give a Damn podcast series with Becky Hammond from Isogo Strong. Becky is a maven in the Strengths world, who partners with organisations to build engaged cultures where people thrive. Becky also inspires couples and mums to look at life differently through a lens of strengths, focusing on what’s right and getting more flow back into their lives.

You can listen to this episode of the Inspired Energy podcast on your favourite platform.

Also check out www.leaderswhogiveadamn.com to complete the free quiz to find out if you’re a leader who gives a damn and the Leaders Who Give A Damn online program.


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