What does ‘Do Less, Lead More’ mean? One of my clients asked me this week and at first I didn’t think he was being serious. Then I realized it was a genuine question, ‘please can you explain what it means’. After believing the title of my book was obvious, it was a good wake up call. Of course it is obvious to me, I wrote the book and I’d better explain it. And not before time.
So what does ‘Do Less, Lead More’ mean?
The core premise is that by doing less ourselves and focusing on leading those around us, we can get more done. When we try to do more ourselves, we quickly reach a limit. We are all finite and there is only so much we can do. I found this out the hard way in my career at Intel. I started working longer and longer hours, sometimes all night. My five day working week became six, where I used Sunday to get caught up, only to fall behind again the next week.
Why does this happen?
We start out as individual contributors, only responsible for completing our own work. As we get more proficient, we get promoted to lead the group but nobody explains what the new role is all about. We want to be helpful, so we continue to solve the problems around us. It feels good, we are adding value but we are unknowingly creating a big problem. We are teaching the people around us to bring us their problems to solve. By doing this we also don’t help these people learn to solve these problems. And because we solved their problem so well, they bring us more and more increasing our workload. This is a one-way street to burnout and it also means we aren’t doing our job, and things start to go downhill. Does this sound familiar? It is exactly what happened to me as you’ll read in my book.
What should we do instead?
Instead of taking on other people’s problems, we need to do our job as their leader. This means making clear requests, securing commitment and coaching them to deliver better and better results. When we do this, the people around us learn and grow, they feel motivated because they are succeeding and we don’t end up having to work longer. And because we aren’t working longer, we can focus on becoming a better leader, generating better results. And the cycle goes on and on. Trust me, it is MUCH better than doing more and leading less!
You can read my leadership story and learn how to do less and lead more in my new book. Check it out on Amazon.