To grow your business you have to free yourself from the everyday moving part of your business so you have room and time to lead. If you’re a software engineer trying to grow your firm, you won’t get there spending all day at the writing lines of codes. But that kind of obvious labor is just the beginning of the story.
There’s a whole other kind of busywork you’re doing beyond your core ‘craft’ – whether you’re a financial planner, software engineer, or marketing professional. We call it the work of the entrepreneur fever in you.
It’s the hardcoded act of being everywhere and anywhere in your business at all times. It’s the kind of work you ended up doing today, even though you had other plans, and paradoxically, even though you didn’t spend any time at ‘the design table.’
The technology evolution has given us the ability to see into our business with a level of detail that was never before possible, from instant customer feedback through social media, to website analytics, to real-time sales dashboards, and more. And, as wonderful as that is in one way, access to that real-time data creates a hazardous ability to influence the business in real-time, which can severely undermine the people and the business leader.
We are all micro-managers now, or at least micro-influencers, and with that power comes great responsibility. It is true for almost everyone, but especially if you are a C-Level leader, that has to be that much more disciplined to stay out of other people’s way, or you’ll take the risk of undermining all that outstanding work that was done on values and vision because it would not exemplify it in the day to day operation.
There is no value in the number of filters you used to have between you and the outside world that ‘kept you’ from having that kind of influencing power. Twenty, or even ten years ago, we had managers with a much clearer directive to evaluate prospects and vendors to see whether they were worthy of your time. Some may even have had an assistant to screen your calls, make your appointments and travel arrangements. And, of course for the life of god, we didn’t have an email inbox or a Twitter account to handle.
The solution to getting over the overwhelming sensation is self-discipline and nothing will change until you do. The good news is that it doesn’t take much before you start seeing noticeable and visible results. You will find yourself having the choice and the time to work on that desirable account, the space to do some clear thinking about a new product, or the confidence to finally take that vacation, without noticing your ‘unread email’ count going up in the back of your mind.
Making space for real leadership isn’t easy. It’s much more comfortable to check your email again, or elbow-in on a customer service issue where you know you can add a little value. But your job isn’t to add a little value here and there; it’s to add a lot – to inspire, to have a vision, and to be a sounding board for other people’s ideas.