We’re continuing our occasional series on leadership and sharing 3 more counter-intuitive leadership strategies:
Share Your Insights
We all have particular insights or unique perspectives on how we can run our businesses best. Over your years of leadership, you’ve likely developed a few methods to get things done that blow your competition out of the water. You are an expert in something, and there are areas of your work you do exceptionally well. Just like the person who refuses to share the secret ingredients for their famous BBQ sauce that everyone loves, we can get protective of the tricks we have to improve our performance. We feel that if we share our tips with others, then we won’t be special or unique anymore. If everyone can do what we do, then what good are we?
You should share your secrets of excellent performance with others. For one, when you help other people get better, you get better as well. Helping to Increase the performance of other leaders in other businesses will benefit your company in return. When other people improve, we often reap the benefits. There is not a limited number of customers available for our industry. There are untapped markets where people don’t use the services of anyone from our field. As we help others improve, we increase the potential audience for our services as well.
If you help other people out, they will be more likely to help you out in return. A piece of advice that helps to make someone’s business run smoother can go a long way, and we may find that people pass along their insight or think of us when looking for work in the future. You’ll also come up with more ideas to make your performance better. The tips you have aren’t the only ones you’ll ever come up with, and the act of finding new ways to increase our performance sharpens our skills.
With the rise of smartphones and instant messaging, work has the potential to be a 24/7 reality. There is never a time when people can’t get a hold of us. If someone has a question for us, they can send us a text message or send an email that can get to us immediately, even when we’re not at work. Many of us are addicted to checking our messages too. We don’t have to check our phone and messaging apps in the evening, weekends, or during our vacations. Yet we have continually been available for so long that it’s become routine for us and expected by others. When we are always on for work, it hurts our performance. Our brains need opportunities for rest and the chance to unplug from our responsibilities. When we open our email or try to squeeze in some extra work in the evening, we stop our brain from resting. It’s shown that even a little bit of work in the evening can negatively influence our performance the next day.
We need to rest as our energy and strength have limits. We can’t go forever, no matter what you might think. You might have more energy than some of the people you work with, or compared to other owners, but you still have a limit. For most of us, the longer we work, the more ineffective we become. When we force ourselves to keep going without breaks and rest, our work becomes less efficient and careful. We struggle to produce at the same level as if we took time off. You need to unplug and take some time where you will be unavailable to the people in your company. It’s healthy for you and them to lose touch from time to time.
When we choose to follow a plan, setting specific times for particular tasks, we set ourselves free from the burden of choice and expectation.
Freedom in Structure
We love and value freedom. It’s one of the highest values in our country. We fight for our freedom, and we campaign for the freedom of others. We often get angry and most frustrated when someone challenges our freedoms, whether it’s the freedom to bear arms, free speech, or to practice our religion. Sometimes our picture of freedom, what it means to be free, is incorrect. We think that freedom means we can do whatever we want and that there should be no limits on our time or choices. When it comes to work, to be truly free, we should have the ability to choose whatever we want to do, shifting our plans as necessary to stay open to the best possibilities. While there is some picture of freedom within this view, we misunderstand the power of structure when we think this way.
Structure helps provide freedom to us. When we have no schedule, we are free to do what we choose, but we will often follow a path to places that are not productive or meaningful. With no set schedule in place, we will comply with what other people want for us or what demands come our way. We aren’t free because other people or circumstances are setting our schedules and lives for us. When we choose to follow a plan, setting specific times for particular tasks, we set ourselves free from the burden of choice and expectation. You and your workers will find far more freedom in schedules and structure than in an open calendar that you fill as you go along. You may rebel against the structure, but there is freedom to be found in choosing a schedule and sticking to it.