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Why you need to lead more and manage less

Practically every coaching client that I deal with who is having a hard time either because they are feeling overwork or overwhelmed are struggling with the same problem.

They are spending too much time managing and not enough time leading. Management is about the day to day grind, dealing with issues, reacting to situations.

It’s a tough job, one that can grind you down leaving you feeling burnt out, frustrated and de-motivated, and it doesn’t feel much better for our teams either.

Management is stressful.

Leadership is forward thinking, it’s about being proactive, rather than reactive. It’s about ensuring that our teams are set up to be successful, simplifying things, making sure that the road ahead is clear. Leadership focuses on tomorrow so that today will run more smoothly.

One of my favorite tools for coaching leaders is MCCL Model, which looks at how much time leaders spend in four different areas.

Managing, Coaching, Clienting and Leading

When new clients take this assessment, practically every one of them is spending at least 70-80 percent of their time managing,

The average split of time is usually:

Managing – 80 percent

Coaching – 5 percent

Clienting – 5 percent

Leading – 10 percent

When this happens, you and your teams end up in a situation which Bill Gates describes as being over-managed and under-led.

To get out of this situation leaders need to take a moment, stand back, and look to free up some time to start leading. The more time you can spend leading the less time you will need to devote to managing.

Now I understand this is not easy to do. It’s like trying to worry about fire prevention at the same time as you need to stop your house from burning down.

It doesn’t feel like a top priority.

But if you never get into fire prevention you will be forever putting fires out.

I believe that the best ratio for a leader is

Managing – 30 percent

Coaching – 15 percent

Clienting – 15 percent

Leading – 40 percent

When you can put yourself into the position, you will have a much more productive and less stressed environment.

To this, you first need to start by doing an honest assessment of where you spend your time now. If you’re feeling stressed and overworked, then for sure you are spending too much time in management.

You need to look to see what you can do to reduce this and free up some of your time to start leading more. That might require you to delegate some of the work to your staff, or take on an extra resource for a short period, or work some additional hours to start to lead more.

The latter option is not one that sounds appealing, but you need to do something to find the time to lead.

The more you lead, the less time you will have to manage.

Review your meetings, see which ones you could cancel, look at all your tasks, and re-prioritize. Try to find some time to lead, as this will really help you get the situation under control and allow you to start to turn it around.

It isn’t easy I know, I have been there too. Management creeps up on you, and you can find yourself working crazy hours, but if you can do it you will appreciate the benefits and so will your teams.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, overworked or stressed, take the MCCL assessment, it’s easy to do. Then look to put in place the steps needed to increase the time you spend leading, which will reduce the required management effort.

Gordon Tredgold

Gordon Tredgold is a leadership transformation expert ranked #25 in Global Gurus Top 30 leadership gurus for 2019. Over his 25-year career Gordon has led teams of 1000+ staff in Fortune 100 companies, delivered operational cost savings of $350m and transformed delivery (from <35% to 95 %) and service levels (from 57% to 99.7%). A critically-acclaimed author, Gordon's latest book, FAST: 4 Principles Every Business Needs to Drive Success and Achieve Results, was a finalist for Management Book of the year 2017. He is a regular contributor for Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune and Business Insider and an international keynote speaker, recognised by Inc. Magazine as a top 100 leadership expert and speaker. Gordon works with organisations to transform culture, drive results-based leadership and rapidly accelerate organisational growth and performance.