Andrew was a control freak. He was a smart guy and could quickly see the solution to most problems. He had been a great technical expert and was known for his prodigious output. But since moving into leadership he continued the formula that had served him well as an individual contributor. He believed that it was quicker to solve problems himself than explain how it should be done. He regularly complained that it was hard to find good people. He did not have much time to think about the bigger strategic problems that his business faced, while he confronted a myriad of day to day operational issues.
But he was getting frustrated that he was never going to make the difference that he knew he could make, while he was working this way. Something had to give. He was not getting any satisfaction or fulfilment from his work. He knew that his workload was only going to increase and so would the stress that came with it. He tried various productivity tips and techniques to improve his output, but they made no difference. He confronted the reality that there was a lid on what he could accomplish if he relied on his individual efforts. He wanted to do great work and understood that he could only do so with an energised team.
Michael Bungay Stanier in his book, Do More Great Work, describes three categories of work.
Bad work. Bad Work is a waste of time, energy, and life.
Good work. Good Work is the familiar, useful, productive work you do—and you likely do it well.
Great work. Great Work is what we all want more of. This is the work that is meaningful to you, that has an impact and makes a difference. It inspires, stretches, and provokes. Great Work is the work that matters.
Andrew’s desire to do great work was the catalyst for him to shift his perception that he must have all the answers. He moved outside his comfort zone and started asking questions instead of providing people with answers. He focused on defining specific outcomes, instead of the process to follow. He forgave mistakes that people made and embraced the idea that there were different paths to achieving the same end. In fact, people surprised him with their innovative ideas, often taking his vision further than he had envisaged. With the support of an energised team, he did great work for his business. He is now known as a game-changing leader.
Are you doing great work?
Best regards, Brian
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