Why Less is More in Leadership

Shawn Casemore • 2 Comment
Posted: October 24, 2011

During the past 18 years I have managed numerous diverse teams across several industries and sectors. There has been one common thread I have dealt with amongst each of these teams: Frustration.

The continuing progression of technology has lead to increasing quantities of information to be shared, reviewed and critiqued. It would appear that “more is better” is a mantra when it comes to business management. Unfortunately, managing in this means is the fastest way to reduce team engagement and effectiveness.

Here are five simple rules for managing effectively in a world overloaded with information:

  1. Have a clear vision and be able to articulate it. It is not enough to simply have a vision of where you would like to take the department, but you must be able to articulate it in a means that is both meaningful and clear for team members. Consider where a fast food chain like McDonalds might be if they didn’t have a clear vision of providing fast food at competitive prices. Always keep your vision or objectives clear and in full view.
  2. Make it personal. Understanding the goals and ambitions of each team member is critical to shaping a vision that will both meet your needs and those of your team. Helping team members understand “what’s in it for them” is the key to ensuring both rapid engagement and synergistic efforts amongst the team.
  3. Less is more. Too much information can overwhelm even the most effective people. Too much information for employees can deter attention from those areas that are most critical to your business or department. Earlier in my career, after accepting a position, my training commenced with my being provided dozens of binders and three days to review them. No kidding, simply gazing (or shall I say glazing) over binders for three whole days. The information in the binders was not even current or relevant in most instances (who has the time to manage binders?).
  4. Simplify and reduce complexity. Along the same lines as “less is more,” it is critically important to consistently simplify and reduce the complexity within an organization. Often I have found that many organizations believe the exact opposite to be true. Consider that a process with an open-ended and flexible approach can always be revised and amended as needed. Starting with an air-tight policy that has little room for flexibility leaves little room for innovation, and significant room for error and frustration.
  5. Maintain a consistent message. As a leader, maintain consistency in your vision and message for your team. Anything less will lead your employees or team members to believe you are a follower simply disguised as a leader. It is true that times will arise when plans change, but discussing why the change is necessary, identifying how it will impact the original plan, and clearly identifying the new intended path is the means to maintaining a consistent message.

Teams are built slowly through discussion, appreciation, coaching, and encouragement. Spend time with your employees; get to know what makes them tick. With this information, and application of the above, you are sure to increase engagement.

© Shawn Casemore 2011. All rights reserved.

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