Busy busy busy. If you’re not busy, you’re probably going to get whacked in the face by some business crisis. But for most leaders busyness is a way of life. With that comes meetings, executive reports, status updates, stakeholder issues, media, staff issues and a gamut of other pieces of information that fly across your desk / email / brain.
These pieces of information power you in making impactful decisions, but how do they affect your team (and ultimately you)? Let’s jump in, unpack the issues and give you some useful tips on making it work for you.
Someone turn off that news feed…
If you’ve spent any amount of time in a leadership role, you know there is a non-stop avalanche of information coming your way. Attending a meeting means notes, actions and context documents. Head off to a stakeholder briefing and guess what, more mountains of information. Hire a consultant (we mean well, I swear!) and we start sending you useful information, tools and resources.
Even worse, you open your inbox after a day’s worth of meetings, team issues and projects and now you’ve got more emails than time left in the day.
We’ll chat about time and information management down the track, but today’s issue is far more insidious (when’s the last time you had a good reason to use that word?). Here’s why.
The team… what about the team???
So you’re treading water and barely hanging in there with the previously mentioned avalanche of info and then something happens:
- You and the team are in sync (I’m not talking Bye Bye Bye)
- The team starts self-directing and making decisions (good, they should be)
- You get busy. Very busy
- You notice that the decisions they are making aren’t quite what you would have
- This increases as your busyness increases
- The team feels like you’re all not on the same page and unhealthy issues arise
- You lose trust and start taking back control
- The downward spiral ensues
- Everyone becomes unhappy
Whelp, that escalated quickly.
And this isn’t an exaggeration. I’ve seen this happen far too many times. It’s tough for everyone and breaks well established relationships.
So what’s a busy leader to do?
Keeping in sync when you’re too busy
This is going to seem like a no-brainer, but it’s one of those things we lose sight off when we get busy.
Don’t fight the team to regain control. You’ll lose. I promise you that you’re team will disengage and you (and they) will struggle to regain lost ground.
Let’s instead focus on the key ways you can get back on top of things while keeping your team empowered, engaged and performing like rock-stars (Bruce Springsteen, not Kid Rock).
- Run a flash briefing – ever watch John Oliver, Trevor Noah or anyone else who can take massive global news and package it up concisely into short useful news? That’s your job. You have to give the team context on why things are happening the way they are. If a stakeholder has gone rogue or the goal posts have moved, you need to brief them quickly. Do this at your daily (or at least weekly) stand up / meeting.
- Don’t insulate the team – one of the worst habits I’ve seen leaders adopt is that of the patriarch. This saviour that buffers the team against the ‘harsh reality’ of the organisation. Knock it off. The team needs to hear the truth and step up. They can’t do that if you’re hoarding info and ‘protecting them’‘.
- Ask for what you really need – if you’re floundering, ask for help. If the team need to step up, let them know. If the business is in crisis, get the team up to speed. If you don’t ask, then whose fault is it when you don’t get what you need from the team?
- Trust the team – you’ve built an amazing team (or are on the path to), so trust them to do the jobs you’ve hired them for. You can’t do your job AND theirs, so stop trying. You’ll never grow the organisation that way.
If you take these four tactics on board, I promise you that a good team will help you manage the tension and achieve a result.
Isn’t that what we all want?
You’ve got this, now make it happen