The more, the less

The more people are asked to give opinions on a project, the more urgent it is and the less important it is.

The more people are cc’ed in an email thread, the more urgent it is and the less important it is.

The more reviews and approvals a piece of work needs, the more urgent it is and the less important it is.

The more involvement in a project from upper management and executive team, the more urgent it is and the less important it is.

The more a decision is changed (in a short span of time), the more urgent it is and the less important it is.

Urgent is about fear, uncertainty, stress, distraction, pretense.

Important is about strategy, focus, long-term, doing, control.

When something is important, set the stage and clear the way. If you are doing your job right, somebody will own it and see to it till the final step.

Digest

If you lead a team, you typically have 30-minute (minimum) weekly meetings where you do most of the talking and then go around the room.

Why not trying a weekly digest instead?

You send it out once a week.

You share key decisions from management and executive team.

You highlight important messages (from internal communication systems) that are relevant to your team and that might have been missed.

You update on your main focus for the week and praise people’s achievement from the previous week (you should be able to get that from a project management tool).

You add a personal touch, a story from your weekend, something you have learned, a practice you are developing.

Would that be a time saver?

Failure as learning

Share and celebrate your successes. And share and celebrate your failures too.

This is even more important when you are a leader. People learn from failures, more than they learn from successes. Failures make you more relatable, they help alleviating the pressure, and they allow others to prevent missteps, traps, biases. Indeed, sharing the stories of your failures is one of the greatest gifts you can give your team.

If you aim at owning your story, you ought to own your failures as well.

People pay more attention to, engage in more thinking about, and retain a more elaborate memory of negative as compared to positive events.

Bleadow et al., Learning From Others’ Failures

Not quite yet

If you give people space, they will grow to fill that space.

Give them a project, a question, a challenge, a responsibility, a team, and more often than not they will rise to the occasion. That’s how growth happen, after all. You might be spending time reading, attending classes, completing certification, and that is of limited value until you test what you have learned on the field.

For most organizations, though, the rule is not quite yet. It is never the right time to give space, as there is always something else that gets in the way.

The end of the quarter.

The launch of a new product.

An important acquisition.

The flattening of the curve.

The upcoming report.

What really gets in the way is fear. What if things will not turn out as planned? A better question, of course, would be: when do things turn out as planned? And an even better one: what is the worst thing that could happen?

If you can’t manage this type of uncertainty, you are a lazy manager in a lazy organization.

I am sure that is not what you want.

Little control

You have little control on the lives of others.

The way they act, what they feel, how they behave. What they are going to do. Whether they are happy or sad. Whether they are decent human beings or treat everyone unfairly. The choices they are going to make. How they are going to react to a bad turn of events. The impact they will have in the world.

The most you can hope for is to show a way. To give kindness and presence. To make mistakes and say you are sorry. To be sad and talk about it. To be happy and share the feeling with those you love. To play, laugh, and support.

At some point, you have to let go. Before that, be the best version of yourself.