As a CEO or manager, your plate is likely full to the point of overflowing. You are under pressure, countless demands are being put upon you and there is no way you can do it all. Your solution should be a simple motto: “Do less and accomplish more.” The following points will break that motto down into a handful of useful principles for being more productive at work while keeping a clear head.
1. See the forest, not the trees.
As a manager, you can’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. You need to hold all parts of your company in the context of the whole. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Focus on keeping all these moving parts coordinated. For example, on occasion in my business we can have a fair amount of cash in hand. Someone in the office sees that and has a "great idea" of how to spend it. The problem is they don’t see the big picture. You may have taxes due soon or another project you want to fund, or perhaps you know that additional money may not be coming in for a while. Keeping your eye on the big picture will keep the cash flow healthy.
Think of yourself as the captain of a ship on a long journey. You’re steering the boat and charting the course, but the only way you’ll ever reach your destination is by delegating other tasks to your crew. By recognizing that you can’t do everything yourself, you free yourself up for doing the things you do best, and in turn you set the course for everyone else on your team.
2. Stay out of the weeds.
Anyone who has worked in management or fast-paced environments will know the importance of staying out of the weeds. This means tackling both expected and unexpected challenges that arise on a daily basis without getting pulled into all the small details. So how do you put out fires quickly and effectively?
First and foremost, know your team and pay attention. Offer solutions, but know they are suggestions. Your job is not to solve every problem, but to help them function as a healthy and wise team. If your employees bring you a problem, be aware of the possibility that you may get pulled into the weeds. As soon as you're aware that has happened, step out of the situation as tactfully as you can. Perhaps this means giving yourself or the employee a day or more to think about the situation.
3. Reflect and ponder.
Strong leaders have to think, feel, reflect and ponder. That may involve gathering information here and there. But reflecting is even more important, and unfortunately frequently neglected. Best decisions are made in your quiet moments. A good deal of your management time might best be spent staring out the window.
These quiet moments of reflection will reveal to you the steps you should take from a big picture perspective. Strategic planning is about much more than market research and data sheets. Often it’s about spending a significant portion of your time reflecting and pondering.
4. Make the rounds.
You can accomplish an incredible amount by just taking a few minutes to walk through each department. By observing your team at work and having quick conversations, you’ll keep your finger on the pulse of your company more effectively than by just reading reports. You will also find that you can offer simple, quick solutions to problems that your team may have felt to be huge roadblocks. It’s a win-win, because you can do a quick round of troubleshooting, while also seeing what needs your attention.
5. Know your team.
The success of your business hinges on how well you know your team. Some employees prefer direct management, while others are self-starters who appreciate a more hands-off approach. Find what works for everyone on your team, and you will instantly improve office productivity. Identifying everyone’s work style will also make it clear how much you can delegate. Remember that your team is your support system, and delegating wisely is a great way to do less but accomplish more. Theoretically, you could make your goal as leader to do nothing while accomplishing everything. The world being the way it is, you will still have plenty to do.
Do less to accomplish more.
Leaders need to function very efficiently. They must artfully stay above the fray while simultaneously keeping a finger on the pulse of details. No two companies are exactly alike. You have to know your own company intimately, being aware of what it is and what it is not, as well as what the influencers are. No matter how well you do this, you will still face unexpected hurdles every day. The effective leader handles these by utilizing the five points above.