A client recently shared, “My team never seems to know what to do or when to take initiative. They wait for me to tell them what to do and I’m tired of it. I can’t continue to do everyone’s job!” Does this sound familiar?
You’re an experienced leader. You’ve onboarded, trained, developed, and worked with dozens of team members before but times are different. There’s way more work to do than ever before and fewer experienced people to do it, so it falls to you or it doesn’t get done. Right? Mmmmm, let’s look at things a bit closer to see if there might be more at play here.
There’s way more work to do than ever before and fewer experienced people to do it, so it falls to you or it doesn’t get done. Right?
With this client, I was able to observe one of her regular, weekly executive team meetings. My client is ‘the boss’ and naturally led the meeting and walked her team through the issues currently in play. However, what she also did was raise issues that were going to be discussed at a project meeting later in the week, followed by new information she’d received that morning from her director on new initiatives potentially impacting the team later this year, and she then circled back to areas of priority focus that were top of mind three months ago, but have since fallen off their collective radar. After that, she asked for questions – there were none – and she ended the meeting.
After everyone had left the meeting, she asked if had noticed that no one had asked any questions. I replied, “Yes that was pretty obvious! But let me ask you, what do you want Kelsey to focus on now? What are you expecting from Kourtney and her team? What do you believe Eli understands you need from his team?… Do you see where I’m going?” She looked at me confused. Then she opened her mouth. Then she closed it. Then she said, “Darn it, Liz! (She used a different word, but let’s not focus on that.) I didn’t clarify any priorities for them did I? Crap!”
It may seem like a flash of the flaming obvious to you, but to her and many other leaders trying their best to get things done while keeping everyone informed, everything is important. As a result, they confuse instead of calm their team members by not limiting their own, and therefore their team’s focus on doing what matters most.
They confuse instead of calm their team members by not limiting their own, and therefore their team’s focus on doing what matters most.
So if you’re burning yourself and others out by trying to focus on and do everything, remember the old Eisenhower Matrix model to help determine your focus, expectations, and actions. Clarify for yourself and your team what is:
- Urgent and Important – Do these things first
- Important but Not Urgent – Schedule meetings/times to get these done alone or with teams
- Urgent but Not Important – This is busy work or routine work and should ideally be delegated or handled as you have less pressured time to do it
- Not Urgent and Not Important – Dump it and Delete it. Why are you/your team spending time doing this or considering this? It’s not helping you move the mission and your metrics forward.
It’s easy to criticize others for not focusing on what may seem obvious. However, how many times in the past week alone have you not focused on and done what matters most? Limit your focus and stop the confusion.
Copyright MMXXIII – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!