By Laura Thorne, MACNY Consulting Partner
When I meet people, they are often astonished by the amount of work that I do. They assume I must work from sun up to sun down, even though I don’t. I recently read two books that I initially thought were conflicting approaches to success. After some reflection, I realized they actually pair really well together. Used in conjunction, they can not only help improve productivity, but also increase your reach. In other words, they maximize your impact.
I currently run five business ventures and still make time to travel and enjoy life. I’m often told that the key to success is doing just one thing and leaving all else behind. “If you don’t focus on one thing, then you focus on nothing,” they say. If you own a manufacturing company, you might hear the same types of things when you start talking about launching new product lines. Then, I read about the number of businesses some of our most revered role models, like Richard Branson, are involved with and I remind myself that I don’t have to be like everyone else. It’s okay to work on multiple projects.
If you feel like there’s more in this life that you want to accomplish than you can fit into one lifetime, I hope the pairing of these two concepts will be beneficial to you. Here’s how you and your team can make a bigger impact without sacrificing one thing for another.
The most recent book we read in the High Impact Reading Challenge Book Club was Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, where author Greg McKeown argues less is more. The concept of essentialism is accepting that you can’t really do it all (the caution everyone else loves to tell me). Once you recognize this, you can decipher which tasks are the most essential and make those your priority. Focus on only the tasks that yield the greatest rewards. As McKeown puts it,
“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done,; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at your highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”
Here’s the thing. When I first started reading McKeown’s book, I thought it was the same stale message – you can only pick one important thing to set as your priority. A few chapters in, I realized you can also be essential in your responsibilities. What some refer to as your ‘unique brilliance’ or ‘vital few’ – the things that make you fundamentally who you are that can’t be delegated. Once I locked onto that thought, the need to delegate to the max was embellished in my brain. In order to keep doing the myriad of things I’m doing, I have to pair it down to my essential tasks – no more administrative work, no more procrastinating on hiring helpers, and start investing in people to help me move my ideas forward – not put them aside.
It’s okay to work on multiple projects, it’s not ok to try to do everything for all of those projects – enter Multipliers.
Fortunately, not too long before reading Essentialism, I read Multipliers by Liz Wiseman (coincidentally co-written by Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism). In Multipliers, Wiseman discusses how to be a good leader, arguing that there are two kinds of leaders. There are multipliers, who use their intelligence to leverage others’ skills and strengths to produce the best results, and there are diminishers, who assume that others need their guidance and expertise in order to perform well in their job, thus making their employees dependent on them and unable to flourish.
These are the key ways you can be a multiplier:
- Assume people are talented — after all, they were hired for a reason. Then, utilize their talent to the fullest. Although you should always offer guidance, do not assume you need to take every employee under your wing. Give employees challenging tasks that make them grow as professionals.
- Pay attention to people – find out what about their job excites them, what motivates them, and what they are good at. Then, put them into environments where they will thrive.
- Remove hindrances – eliminate the barriers that make it more difficult for employees to perform well. Don’t set anyone up for failure.
When your team is productive, invested in their work and demonstrate confidence in their abilities (a.k.a. multiplied). Your business’ output will be amplified. If you want to bring on the latest technology but can’t because you don’t have time to do it, maybe it’s not your essential responsibility and there is someone else who would be better suited to take it on.
Are you getting this? Be essential AND multiply to exponentially increase your impact (by now you all know I am in love with The Genius of the AND pointed out by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in Build to Last)!
Creating a team you can trust to delegate takes effort. You have to set expectations with them from the start. When you bring a new team member into your business, make sure they are driven, talented, and eager to learn. From there, throw them into the deep end. Rather than telling them what to do, tell them what your vision and goals are and listen to their ideas on how they can help accomplish them.
Being able to turn over responsibilities to others freed up time for me to keep pursuing all my endeavors. By making intentional efforts to identify your vital few and delegate the rest, you too will have time for multiplying people and multiple ventures.