If you are like many of my executive clients, you are a leader who started out as a doer.
Earlier in your career, you were a star individual contributor whose talent got the attention of your manager and other company leaders. They recognized your skills and dedication. They identified you as a future leader with untapped potential. And so, you got promoted.
You became a manager, director, vice president and above. You went from being the person who gets things done to the person who manages the work, then manages the managers, runs the department, leads the business unit or region, or runs the entire company. You may have ascended rapidly or gradually over the years. And today, you’re a leader.
But… are you a leader who does too much?
Truth be told, even great leaders can have trouble letting go. After all, it’s not easy to change how you see yourself or modify your beliefs about the value you bring. And chances are, you are very, very good at what you do. You are an expert. You are dedicated. You can get things done quickly and you do them well. So why shouldn’t you jump in, especially when there’s so much work to be done?
I’ll give you three good reasons. Here’s what will happen if you are too hands-on:
- You will deprive your team the opportunity to learn. How can your people develop new skills if you keep doing their jobs? Step back, let them stretch, grow and learn. Yes, they may work a little more slowly than you (at first). They will make more mistakes. Give them time. They’ll get there.
- You will have less time to attend to leadership activities. Don’t lose sight of what you’re really being paid to do. As a leader, you should be spending your time on strategy, vision, inspiration and influence. You also need to develop strong successors. If you’re busy doing the work, you won’t have enough time to thoughtfully assess the talent in your organization and set them (and the company) up for success.
- You won’t look like a leader. You may be the best implementer your company has ever seen—but if you keep on doing, you will lose credibility. You won’t be viewed as the person to lead your team and company into the future. And once you’ve lost the confidence of others—the board, your boss, peers or employees—it will be awfully hard to get it back
You’ve worked hard to become the leader you are today. Make the most of it. Slow down, step out of the daily busyness, and home in on the actions that will help you, and your organization, truly thrive.