What do you struggle with as a leader? Based on countless conversations with leaders, I think I know. I didn’t have language to capture all these conversations until recently. Here’s what I think… the number one issue facing many leaders is forgetfulness.
Now, this is an easy topic for me to relate to… I’m at the point in life I can find my own Easter eggs. However, forgetfulness in a leadership context is no trivial matter. It can have catastrophic effects.
Let me explain my moment of clarity on this topic; it came just a couple of weeks ago while listening to Michael Gerber. If you don’t know about Michael, he is most famous for a book, actually a series of books, around the idea of the E Myth.
Michael was the first guy I know who popularized the powerful concept that leaders need to work “on” their business not “in” their business. He contends most business owners (and many leaders) are technicians who succumbed to an entrepreneurial seizure and started their own business.
He believes his “on the business” mindset is their way to escape the trap they are building for themselves. I think there is a lot of truth in Michael’s premise, but that’s not what caught my attention.
Michael was talking about why so many leaders get caught in the day-to-day tactical activities of their business. He contends they forgot what they wanted to build from the outset. He went on to say, a leader is someone who can remember what they set out to create.
Really? Could that be true? Let’s try to test his theory:
Do you know any leader who set out to build a team, a department, or an organization that when fully orbed would suck the life out of them? I don’t. Yet, that’s what so many leaders are actually doing. I guess they forgot the original vision!
Many leaders are creating a structure and a system in which they are indispensible to day-to-day operations. When leaders get trapped in the heads down activities of the daily grind, they forfeit the opportunity to build something bigger than themselves.
If leaders don’t invest time to work “on” their team, department or organization, they will become blinded to the truth they are not creating what they set out to build: an organization with ever-growing capacity for influence, opportunity and income.
The prescription I have shared with leaders to escape this trap is simple and yet, for many it is so painful it is just out of their grasp…
[tweet_box design="default"]Invest time outside the four walls of your organization thinking, planning and working to build what you’ve always dreamed of creating.[/tweet_box]
Unfortunately, only time on task can bring the future into reality. Until then, you will be a prisoner of your current situation. All you need is some time to begin planning your escape. Don’t let the tyranny of today steal your future.
Start this week. Find 2 hours to work “on” your organization.
Your First Assignment: Working away from your office, write out in great detail what it is you are trying to build. And then, tape your description to your bathroom mirror for 90 days. Or, put it anywhere else you would like so it can serve as a constant reminder. To succeed as a leader, you must be able to remember what you are trying to build.[GLS_Shield]
If you need any inspiration regarding what type organization you may want to build, that's the topic of my book, Chess Not Checkers.