Lack of time is a reflection of your leadership skills.
Of all the challenges facing leaders today the most daunting of all is the “Lack of Time”. Arguably, it is also the oldest of challenges we face. Ask any frazzled and frustrated leader what their greatest challenge is and they are likely to go through a litany of problems. But when challenged as to why they haven’t been able to solve them at least part if not all the assignment of blame will include the “lack of time”. And when that happens I’m always reminded of hearing a speaker years ago say that “The problem is never the problem, the issue is never the issue.” And while the context was completely different, my own examination and application of the idea over the subsequent years has revealed the wisdom of this comment. And it is particularly true in business.
What probably drove the point home to me was the application to my own circumstances at the time coupled with my own perspectives on time and its impact on me. As long as I can remember, time has been a lion chasing me. And the pressure it creates can bring out the worst of my behaviors. There has never been enough of it and I’m certain my time here is going to run out long before I accomplish all that I want. Even more troubling is that it can blind me to the “real issues”. Many years ago when frustrated with my own inability to get my team to follow my lead and carping about it, I was reminded that by definition it was my responsibility as a leader to do just that. Point well taken and made it clear to me that I had more to learn in my quest to be a good leader.
If I was going to have any serious impact on the use of my time I realized I had to examine my own actions first. And that means taking a good look at what my job as a leader is and whether that is how I’m spending my time or not. If not why not? And what do I need to change to free up my time so that I can do my job? While the process is true regardless of the size of your business, it becomes even more critical with smaller organizations. The more hats we have to wear but it’s easy to get caught in the trap of doing it yourself because it ”doesn’t take that long”. As someone that has started more than one company as a one person organization, I speak from my own experience and from the observations of many others I’ve seen over the years. If what you are doing isn’t what makes you money and there is another way to get it done, then that’s what you should be doing. Simple as that. More often than not I find that when a Leader or owner is doing work that isn’t his core responsibility then the likelihood is that he/she simply hasn’t asked the question “why am I doing this job?” But there can be other reasons that aren’t as obvious and can be major problems for the future health of an organization. The most common for an entrepreneur is the belief that no one does it as well as he/she does and that he/she has to be the one doing that. Even if that is true, it is imperative to work toward another model where your talents can be focused on where your real gifts are and not on the minor talents. More often than not the real challenge is the inability to delegate responsibilities and structure KPI’s to measure the performance of those who are doing the delegated work. The ability to do just that is one of the skills that defines leadership.
All the talent in the world can be meaningless to a leader if they can’t lead. In today’s world the lack of leadership has become an axiom in many businesses and it doesn’t have to be that way. One of the biggest limiting obstacles to a growing business is a founder with a great idea and/or talent who has no idea how to operate the business. Those are the people I wrote about last month that are struggling to keep their sanity and to keep their employees from driving them crazy. Learning to face the facts and then making decisions based on them instead of frustration or wishful thinking will frequently turn a nightmare into a success. In short a lack of time is more about facing life and its circumstances straight on and then learning how to change the situation for the better.