Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A common leadership trap: Adding without subtracting

As leaders grow they take on new responsibilities. Often however, they fall into a common leadership trap by not jettisoning other activities to make space for the new. You cannot add without also subtracting! If you do, margin disappears and the quality of what you do is not what it should be. 

Regardless of our abilities we all have a finite amount of time and energy. We choose what we place in that available time and energy. But once full it is full. To put something new in requires that we take something old out. For something new to grow, something old must die, or be passed on to others.

Why do we hold on when we should let go? We know how to do something and may be very good at it. We may not like to disappoint people who want our time or attention. We may not be good at saying no. Or we enjoy doing it. Whatever the reason, to put something new in requires that we take something old out. 

This is actually the price of personal growth. Without taking on something new we don't grow. So the price of growth is to let go of other things that we have already mastered. As we grow in new areas our effectiveness also grows. The cost is giving something else up. You cannot effectively add without also subtracting.

What do you need to subtract?

1 comment:

Rockne said...

A healthy thought in this was (I think) in the third paragraph when something is handed off to others. The danger of this thought in its extreme, that is of addition, is giving up too soon and adding more or simply replacing it before anything is developed. Good leadership would develop whatever the goal or in my thought ministry, and during thr process of working with people, not just delegate, but also allow human development in leading it. Then once addition occurs, i.e. in other ministry opportunities, the leader adding simply steps out allowing himself/herself to be replaced, and then restarting the process in a new area with other people. In this the leader avoids being fickle with tasks and models responsibility, and healthy leadership is multiplied.