A critical doer understands time; long and short view
I want to follow up on the last post about time. We talked about the importance of trusting your people to take on tasks that give you time to do the things that only the leader can do. It’s a good time (no pun intended) to talk about the delegation of time itself.
A critical doer has to delegate time in the same manner as tasks…let me explain. In any situation there is a short, medium, and long term. Planning for these bands of time must be done in parallel in order to ensure there is never a point in an organization’s life where your people reach a stopping point and ask “well, what do we do now?” There’s an even more devastating question when leaders don’t plan for circumstances that can be clearly seen on the horizon…”didn’t anyone see this coming?”
I’ve been in an organization where a number of “cop outs” were used to justify relinquishing the obligation to think in time…”don’t want to tie my successor’s hands so we’ll let this wait until the transition”, “circumstances might change”, etc. You have to understand that when it comes to time, failing to make a decision is a decision in itself to stop shaping your strategic future and let the future shape you. The resulting loss of confidence from your people is a deal breaker and recovery is exceedingly difficult.
The solution for a critical doer is to carve up time just as you would tasks and delegate planning to your people (with the reminder that you can delegate work but not accountability). The senior leadership of an organization is responsible for vision and direction; a baseline of 6 months to 2 years (varies by organization and mission) is the area where this layer of leadership should focus. Middle management should focus on today to 6 months as they translate strategy to tasks and ensure there is never a work stoppage. Front line supervisors are up to their necks in today as they focus on accomplishment of tasks and the day to day issues of dealing with individuals.
Take this opportunity to examine how effectively you’re using time in your current situation at work and at home. If you don’t have a methodical way of charting a strategic path, translating the vision to tasks, and managing the issues of the day then time is working against you. Proper management of time gives you a competitive advantage in dealing with changing circumstances and creating opportunities. Always make sure time is on your side; it’s what a critical doer would…do!