Don’t Be the Bottleneck to Your Team’s Performance

It’s easy to tumble from being the greatest asset in your business to being the greatest problem.
Identify the indicators. Learn how not to become the bottleneck.

Would your team’s performance suffer if you got hit by a bus tomorrow?

No doubt it would. And no doubt you know what you should do to mitigate against this risk. You should develop your team to become leaders themselves. That’s what you’re supposed to do as a leader, isn’t it? You should delegate more work to them.

So why don’t you?

Because you don’t have the time, right? You’re manically busy. You’re dizzy even thinking about your To Do list. You’re being pulled in every direction possible — clients, boss, direct reports, admin, spouse, children, friends — never mind your own exercise plan.

Each item on your list is like a paper aeroplane flying around your head. They’re really distracting. Finally, you get some time to focus on one. And just as you’re about to land it, your boss interrupts you with something else. And the one you nearly landed? It remains like an itch on your ankle, when your leg is in a cast, just beyond where the pencil can reach. More distraction. Wrecking your head.

Mitigate the risk, delegate

So how do you manage your time more effectively? You know the answer to this too, right. You need to prioritise more, create urgent vs important lists. Again, you’d delegate more. You’d go to fewer meetings. You’d create non-negotiable time in your diary which can’t be interrupted.

So why don’t you?

Why is there such a gap between what you know you should do, and what you actually do? The gap between your expectations and your results?

Before you took on leadership responsibilities, you didn’t have this issue. You just did what you were supposed to do.

Delegating and prioritising your workload are two skills that you can develop as a leader. You just have to be intentional about it. Because without focusing on both areas, you deprive yourself, your team and your business of growth.

Balancing being a leader and a producer

Last week I started with a new corporate client, coaching a senior leader in the business. It’s an international property finance business and “Paul” is a star player.

In very typical fashion, he was asked to run the business on the back of his ability to close the right kind of deals for the business at the right times in various market cycles. Massively valuable. Now he has to continue to produce on the deal front as well as lead his team effectively.

Getting that balance right is notoriously tricky. As Marshall Goldsmith titled his book, What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.

You can easily become the bottleneck

Paul has developed a habit of arriving into meetings with the answers to the questions he poses. He has already thought about them. So why waste the time waiting for everyone else to debate things when he has the answer?

Without changing, his team would be conditioned to submit to his dominance in meetings. The opposite of what is best for them all. And this is a team of high-achieving, top-earning, intelligent professionals.

Paul knows leadership is about empowering others, he doesn’t need to be told this. So why doesn’t he do it?

The same reason you don’t delegate as much as you could. And probably you’re not as effective at prioritising your workload as you’d like.

Because it’s hard to see the picture when you’re in the frame.

Paul is still thinking and behaving like the deal guy, not the leader. And he knows he is. It’s not easy to change habits that have brought you success, is it? Unlearning what has served you well.

Are you a bottleneck to your team’s performance?

To read the rest of this article, please follow this link to my website. No nonsense, it’s available to read right away. And the tips to identify, prevent and remove the bottleneck are all there for you to see.