Seth Godin has written a lot of classic posts, but this one is my favorite. He talks about how time and decisions become interlinked. He says:
But… That’s our work. We don’t make stuff as much as we make decisions.
As a leader, I do this every day. I used to produce code, but now I produce decisions. If it’s a good day, I make clarity. That clarity often comes if I put the right amount of time into the needed problem. If I don’t, I start to lose momentum and the clarity becomes more elusive.
Leading a team means you’re context switching all the time.
One minute, you’re doing some planning for a project. Next, you’re chatting about someone’s career goals. Later, you might be scanning your roadmap, thinking over what needs to be tweaked. With all that swirling around each day, it’s difficult to keep the important messages in mind for your team.
Think of how your team feels. They do the work, and probably have more on their plate than you. How do they remember what’s important? I’m not talking about your company or team goals, but the messages that will motivate them and make them think deeper about things like company goals. My leadership coach, Akshay, calls these “campaigns.”
To make this easier, I wrote a list.
We should be building the fire suppression system, not the putting out all the fires.
How does it look on mobile?
What problem are we solving here?
We’re not just about themes anymore.
Make the future.
I look at this list at least once a week, trying to work it into conversations and communications with my team when it fits. The list evolves over time, but the themes within stay similar. They range from the everyday details that translate the craft to broad messages that grant perspective.
How are you communicating with your team? And are you saying the important things?
This is about what I learned the hard way: That great creative leadership is about letting go of that nagging mental image you have of what you are supposed to do. It’s about believing in others, and focusing on fanning the flames of creative, weird, exothermic people, rather than on fixing problems.
I like the message on perspective. It’s all about your perspective.
We always think we can do more than we can. Myself included. That hasn’t changed since taking on a leadership role.
Multiple bosses have told me that I “take on too much.” Recently, several members of my team said the same thing to me. Why do I do it? Lots of reasons. Like my team might already have a big to-do list so I don’t want to burden them. Or I want to contribute, and feel like I’ve knocked something off the list. I might even think I can do it quicker than anyone else.
No matter the intentions, many times those reasons end up being selfish. Especially if I fail to help my project, team or company.
If I have the urge to add a task to my to-do list, I ask, “Will this help my team or a specific project?” If they answer isn’t “The team,” I try to delegate the task.
When I start a task, I try to ask myself the same question. That way, I have a filtered process, meaning it’s harder for the wrong tasks to make it through to my day.
I’m not perfect, but using these triggers has meant delegating more and working on the right things for me. If I hesitate, I try to think of the advice my colleague, Brie shared – “Delegate until you’re uncomfortable. If that doesn’t work, I can usually hear my team’s voices, “Delegate, DK!”