Stay out of the weeds. Yet when you look at your yard or garden there they are staring you in the face. It is so gratifying to engage the weeds because you can remove them and quickly feel accomplished. Weeds are preventible, weeds usually always exist and weeds are removable. This is why it is so hard for leaders to stay out of them because they scream for their attention.
How do you stay out of the weeds when they are screaming for your attention? I am not sure the goal is as much about staying out of the weeds as much as it is about your perspective, approach and strategy to engage them.
If you are a leader, you no doubt have a team that is looking to you for direction, strategy, inspiration and development. Most likely you were once in the shoes of your team or have had a similar role in the past. You want to go back to direct weed pulling because it is your comfort zone. Admit it, you feel more productive when you are pulling weeds.
You have not been hired or promoted to spend the majority of your time pulling weeds. You have been hired to provide leadership. Leading your team to a better place than where it is today. This means that the percentage of your time pulling weeds has flipped from 10% leading / 90 % pulling weeds to 90% leading and 10% pulling weeds.
Here are your immediate next steps:
Number 1: What are the strengths and weaknesses of your team? Pull your team together and ask them the question.
Number 2: What results do you want your team to have accomplished 365 days from now?
Number 3: What are your expectations for each team member? How will you hold them accountable for those results?
Number 4: In your role, what are your objectives? Where do you need to advance the business?
If you are in the midst of change, this is the perfect time to advance. Your team right now is worried about their role, worried about the business and wonders what impact all of this will have on them. They are looking to you to create the trajectory, have a vision and empower them to move the team forward.
I have had 10 conversations in the last two weeks and each manager or leader has shared the very same thing. “I am spending 90% of my time in the weeds.” This is as predictable as the weeds themselves and is manageable. This is why I talk to leaders to make sure they have a purpose for themselves and a direction that they want to go, otherwise they are simply being carried by the season and reacting to the new weeds.
Here is a matrix to help you determine if you are in or out of the weeds:
I may be in the weeds if:
1. Technical work is increasing
2. You say to yourself “If I want it to be right its easier if I just do it myself.”
3. Team trajectory and vision is now fuzzy for me and my people.
4. Business seems focused on my technical outcomes vs. the teams outcomes
5. My inside feels accomplished, comfortable and certain because I am living in the comfort zone
6. My presence instills a lack of trust with my team and they feel micro-managed
I am out of the weeds if:
1. Technical work is decreasing and yet more work is getting done through my high performing team
2. Technical work through others with some oversight and management
3. Team trajectory now becomes about vision, purpose, goals that are very clear and strong
4. The business vision and process is the focus vs. your technical outcomes
5. Your inside feels uncertain because you are growing, learning and moving into the unknown with your team
6. Your presence instill confidence and trust