5 Ways to Stop Sabotaging Your Leadership With Too Much “Doing”

Updated: Mar 8

Stop What You’re Doing and Start Leading

You’re the boss. How did this happen? Well, it’s likely that a killer track record of effective performance had something to do with it.

Yes, you’re a leader because you’ve shown that you can do incredible things.

But guess what? Your hard-won identity as a super-performer could be your company’s undoing now that you’re in charge.

Here’s why:

There’s a big difference between doing and leading.

Leaders aren’t the individuals with the longest to-do lists.

They’re the ones who know how to take all the components of a company—from developing team members to product offerings and sales —and fit them into a coherent, optimized whole by engaging the right people for the right roles.

If you insist on being a doer, you’re probably micro-managing your team.

Working hard on getting your team to do things exactly your way is both de-motivating and overwhelming.

When you’re overly invested in the details instead of establishing a process to let your team grow you’re falling into the micro-management zone.

You need more time for big-picture thinking. If you’re consistently taking too much responsibility for smaller tasks, you don’t have a growth mindset. You’re not able to engage in the strategic, high-level thinking that should actually be your greatest contribution to the company.

How can you stop sabotaging your leadership with your relentless “doing”?

Here are 5 ways to start:

Redefine How You Add Value

Spend some time thinking about what differentiates a leader from a team member. Now that you’re in charge of building something bigger than yourself, how can you best add value? (Hint: It’s not by being a star performer.)

If you believe that reviewing the edits or perfecting that PowerPoint is the best contribution you can make to the company, you’re selling yourself short.

As a leader, it’s your job to build a sustainable business that can scale, multiplying the efforts of each team member. You add value by ensuring that an entire team can come together synergistically, making a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Become A Big-Picture Thinker

How’s your growth mindset? How much time do you spend engaged in strategic thinking? Does your day-to-day feel like mere catch-up, or do you feel like you’re on a trajectory towards building a better business?

Henry David Thoreau said, “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”

If you’re not engaged in strategy, you’re likely doing too much work that’s below your pay grade, and not enough of what you’re actually needed for.

Ask yourself that hard question: In all of your “doing”, are you doing what a CEO is paid to do?

Nurture Your Team’s Capabilities

Since being a leader means optimizing the company as a whole, your focus should be on your team member’s capabilities. How can you nurture them? How can you position them to add maximum value?

Oftentimes, this requires a shift in focus.

You must stop spending so much time thinking about what you specialize in, and start thinking about how to effectively communicate with your team. What motivates them to deliver their best work? How are they inclined to add value?

Always be developing your soft skills. The art of nurturing, motivating, and supporting others requires sensitivity and humility. You won’t inspire your team by “being the best”—but you will if you show them how they can be their best.

Turn Your To-Do Lists Into To-Delegate Lists

This is a big one. You must begin to believe that your self-worth isn’t defined by how “hands on” you are. How many items on your to-do list should actually be turned over to others?

Transitioning from being a doer to a delegator is closely tied to nurturing your team’s capabilities. If you never allow others to shine, they won’t grow.

Your identity as “the only one who can get it done” then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When you delegate, do so in a way that sets your team up for success. Don’t just communicate your goals and expectations, and stop there. Your team is most efficient when they have a clear process to follow and a platform for accountability.

Always link tasks with opportunities for personally meaningful growth. For example, if you know that your employee has soft skills that make her an excellent candidate for account management, give her the opportunity to take the lead with a client. Start small by giving her the opportunity to communicate project ideas. It will save you work and position her for long-term success. That’s a win-win.

Create Systems That Free You

This point is closely tied to the last one. Your company needs systems that position you to lead and your employees to excel so that you can scale and do it with less stress.

When you picture the various tasks that add up to your company “doing its thing”, what do you see? Is everything mapped out into logical workflows that connect with desirable outcomes? Or does it look more like a collection of tangled strings, with inefficient snarls and haphazard loose ends?

If you’re the kind of boss who spends all day running around and “getting things done”, I’m going to bet you’re operating in a tangled-string-type scenario.

It’s doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way. And you can change that. After all, you’re a leader!

When you have logical and intentional business systems and processes, you don’t need to practice as much time management.

The system does it for you.

You’re investing in your team’s capabilities by empowering them to get things done. Delegation is automatic, not ad hoc. You have plenty of time to engage in big-picture thinking that steers your company towards scalable success. And the system itself reflects the value you add as a leader because it ties the various parts of your company together into a synergistic whole that can scale.

So please…stop sabotaging yourself with too much “doing”. Start leading. And you can talk to me any time about a system that will free you to do that.

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