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Do Less, Lead Better (Really!)

Find out how you can be more effective by doing less.

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As a leader, you might constantly push yourself to do more or do better to keep up with our ever-changing work environments. But the most powerful approach to leadership today isn't about doing. Before you close this email and head back to your to-do list, consider these three strategies for being more effective by doing less.

1. Make Time to Just Be

Leaders are still caught up in the glory of being busy. They keep their schedules packed. Instead, they could be making time to think about tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities and creating space for curiosity. Slow down and listen to your longing to know more. If you are constantly doing, you can’t learn new information, explore your mistakes or setbacks, think about limitations, or get a sense of the big picture. Devoting time to thinking may not seem productive, but it can actually create clarity and free up innovative thinking.

2. Just Let Go

Let go of your need to have all the answers. Stop consuming every morsel of email or attending every meeting for fear of missing out on project details. Let go of tying your worth to your title, the last project you launched, or the budget you managed. Instead consider the challenges you solve, the people you connect, and the followers you help coach and develop.

3. Rethink Your Habits and Priorities

Writers live by the advice to "kill your darlings." For them, it means being brutally honest with themselves about what's working in a story and getting rid of everything that isn't, even if they're attached to it. For us in business, it means disrupting the habits and rituals that we have "on autopilot" even though they don't serve us or deliver the results we need.

Pull the plug on weekly or quarterly reports that take an inordinate amount of time without much benefit. Challenge the absolute obsession with quarterly figures and key performance indicators. What could be hiding under the surface of those figures? What observations or insights might you be missing out on because your nose is so buried in these routine deliverables that are usually prioritized without question?

When you let go of familiar but ineffective practices, you make room for new ones that may unleash new ideas or new thinking.

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