How To Lead When Things Start Heating Up
The Vernal Equinox occurring in the US and Canada on Monday March 20 marks the official start of spring. It's a time when conditions are becoming more favorable for most plants to grow.
As a leader you may be experiencing your own "spring" season right now. You've got a strong team of committed individuals, resources are more readily available than they have been in recent memory, and several "seeds" of innovation or change are just waiting to grow. How do you make sure you don't miss this window of opportunity to achieve better results? Here are four suggestions:
Create space for something new to grow.
All too often I work with leaders and managers who keep adding to the workload of their team without ever stopping to think about how it impacts their ability to be creative or strategic in their work. When you want a team member or your entire team to work on something new, look for ways to reduce time spent on other responsibilities. Coach them on finding 15-30 minutes of physical and mental space in their day to help these new ideas grow more quickly.
Assess the current work environment.
Seeds struggle to grow in soil that doesn't provide the right amounts of water and nutrients. In the same way, these seeds of change will struggle to take root if you haven't created a supportive environment. Ask yourself (and your team) what resources are needed to encourage these new ideas to grow. The easy answer is time, but it might be training, more collaboration, or (gasp!) less time in meetings.
Watch for the weeds.
The same environment that encourages the seeds you want to grow also provides more favorable conditions for weed seeds to start growing. As you reflect on your own work and that of your team, ask yourself, "What consistently hinders us from working on our highest priorities?" Identify potential distractions and the early signs that they are beginning to "sprout" in the workflow.
Start growing another gardener.
The mistake so many leaders make is that they hold on to too many responsibilities in the spring season and get overwhelmed as things start growing rapidly. Who are the individuals on your team you need to invest in now so they can lead or manage some of these new areas later?
Your job as the leader is to always be breaking new ground, and you can't do that if you're too busy just trying to manage what you already have growing.