Get Out Of The Weeds Or You May Get Wacked

I was surfing for some information the other night. I found what I was looking for in about 3 minutes. One hour later I was reading some article on training porpoises. How I got there I don’t know!… Actually I do. Threads from the first article kept leading me to other interesting articles until I landed on porpoises.

I recall similar experiences at work. It happened when I got involved in reviewing marketing and sales programs with my staff. Before I knew it I was right into the middle of designing the program…maybe even writing copy! It was more interesting and fun than dealing with some employee performance issue or customer complaint.

Ever Have This Happen To You?

Most executives I work with in my coaching business have some areas in which they invariably get caught up in the details of a situation rather than providing leadership. They take on responsibility for a task that really belongs to one of their people. It’s easy to get caught in the weeds. We all do it from time to time. When you are not providing the right level of leadership to your organization or you are doing some one’s role, you are not leading at your level. You know it. They know it. Others see it.

Whatever the reason, it is diminishing your value as an executive. It is robbing one of your people of the opportunity to learn and grow. It is adding to your workload.

You are shirking your duty. You are wasting your energy and intelligence that could be better utilized leading the organization to become more effective, more efficient and more successful…making it a high performing model.

It may be detrimental to your career.

3 Quick Tips For Leading at Your Level

  1. Write down the critical deliverable’s of your role. In a perfect world, where should you be spending your energies? A good place to start is your objectives. As a leader what is the true business value you bring to the organization in terms of its top line and bottom line? What is it that only you can do in your position that will make this team great?

    Examples are: setting vision and strategy; removing road blocks; creating a winning team culture; developing your people; motivating; staffing with the right talent; dealing with non performers.

  2. Be aware of the types of tasks, issues or opportunities that typically draw you into the details and pull you into the weeds. Think of past times when this happened. Just being aware will cause you to recognize when they arise. At first you may only notice when you are already involved. However over time you will immediately recognize the situation and take alternative actions. Be particularly vigilant in meetings in which you may dominate the discussion and drag it into the details rather than identify the deliverable and assign responsibility and accountability.
  3. Think about these situations as professional development opportunities for your employees. It will also enhance and strengthen your leadership. And free up your time to work on moving your team forward.

What Causes You To Get Bogged In The Weeds? Be Honest With Yourself.

      I have a natural ability in that area. It’s my expertise.
      So why not create other experts?
      Time is short. It’s critical. It won’t take long. I’ll just get it done.
      And what about the next time…and the next time…and the time after that?
      This is too important. I don’t trust him to do it right.
      Is there a competence issue here that you are ignoring or not acting on?
      It makes me feel good to show my expertise.
      What ego?
      She’s overloaded. I’ll just do it.
      Is this a professional development issue, resources issue or competency issue?
      I enjoy it!
      Then give up your real job.

By taking on others’ tasks or getting wrapped up in the details, what is the cost in terms of your personal productivity, leadership growth, and lost contribution to the organization?

Lead at your level.

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About Richard Reid


  1. seaumas says:

    I just read Glenn Beck’s new book, “Being George Washington” and realized this was the perfect example of a true leader. Washington had many doubts, frustrations, worries and travails. But he had been a British colonel in the French and Indian War, was seasoned in battle and respected by his men. In the Revolutionary War he was loved, but not to the point of sycophancy; at times he sat with the rank and file, the men in the roil of combat, and discussed with them various ideas. Often, they voted. He invariably fought either at the front or from within. He was humble to a fault, but never weak or indecisive. He was a believer in “The Invisible Hand” which today we might call “providence”; I call it favorable conditions from which one may take needed advantage, not relinquished to a magical or deistic entity. Washington planned and executed those plans within the shortest time possible to be effective. His mind was not on himself, but on accomplishing his task. And he was not too proud to ask for help, even if that help could not speak English (His drill sgt. was a cantankerous Prussian officer who spoke not a word of English and his trainees spoke no German. He trained them to a high level). Washington never claimed to be more than what he was. And even toward the enemy he maintained the etiquette of military civility. He treated the captured officers well before his own officers hung them. They did not suffer the ignobility of being shot to death. Did Washington suffer over the abandonment of some troops because of lack of resources or inability to aid them? And did they die horribly? Yes to both. did his troops sometimes dessert him? Yes. Did some threaten insurrection? Yes. Did he lose battles? Many. Did he get disgusted and complain to congress? Yes. When many of his troops’ enlistments were done, they readied to go home. But the war was not won. He appealed to them to stay. Most stayed. Out of genuine love. Forsaking their own homes and families. One thing that can emphatically said about George Washington is that he never dawdled. He was a leader of commitment and action. I know that corporations are not patriotic enterprises engaged in true hand-to-hand combat, and if they are deluded into thinking they are their lies will destroy them. But it is also true that no employee worth his or her salt will exert much energy to employers or jobs they loathe or have no respect for, the chiefs of which are indecision, isolation and lack of compassion.

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