We often talk with our clients about working ON the business versus IN the business. This refers to the difference between thinking about their organization and work strategically (ON) versus fulfilling the day-to-day operations that make up a leader’s role in the organization (IN). When we discuss this concept with leaders we work with, the vast majority say they wish they had more time to work on the business - to focus on strategy, improvements to processes and systems, and team development.
Most leaders agree they need to make a better effort and carve out time to focus on improving their organization. Often times they find they get “pulled into the weeds” by their staff or are “putting out fires” which prevents them from big picture thinking. However, by making time to focus on the organization and team, leaders can develop ways to enhance services, empower staff to problem-solve independently, identify systems for accountability, and improve processes so there are less fires to put out. We have provided many eye-opening recommendations that sometimes only an objective view can give and as a result leaders and organizations have been propelled forward. By giving themselves the opportunity to take a step back from day-to-day operations, we have seen leaders come up with new or expanded programs and business models, identify team and staff development opportunities, and make workflow improvements.
The concept of ON versus IN applies to all levels of management from CEO to first time line leaders. Of course, the amount of time and the level of strategic thinking are different for various levels of the organization and experience, but setting aside the time is important none-the-less. Someone who leads a team of one still has an obligation to effectively lead that person and to ensure their team’s contributions meet or exceed the expectations of the organization and those they serve.
So if leaders do not regularly set aside time to focus on their organization at a strategic level, what is the probability that they are setting aside time to intentionally work on themselves as leaders? We have found it is rare that leaders take an introspective look at their leadership approach and effectiveness on a regular basis. Often times leaders think about this just prior to their performance review, when things go off course, or if they have the rare spare moment.
We work with many wonderful leaders who work hard for their organizations, their staff, and the community they serve. By taking a regular look at what their outcomes have been, the quality and contribution of their teams, their ability to develop staff, their impact on the organization, and what they want to achieve as leaders for themselves as well as those they serve is critical to improving performance and elevating a leader’s capabilities.
At Curtis Strategy, we make a conscious effort to take our own advice. We make the time to work on our business, and as a result we have taken a hard look at some of the challenges that organizations we serve have been facing around leadership. It is with much anticipation and excitement that we are preparing to make a big announcement in the coming weeks. Our intention is to help leaders at all levels of the organization improve their performance, their teams, and their organizations so please keep an eye on your inbox. It’s time to make time to lead with intention and, in the words of Simon Sinek, “let us all be the leaders we wish we had.”