If you are a leader that has ever wished for more hours in the day, more time before a deadline, more staff, more help, or better tools, this blog post is for you. The fact is, leaders are always looking for ways to increase capacity. How do we get greater capacity to accomplish what we need to get done in a day, a week, a month, or even a year? I've stumbled on a few ideas over the years, so I thought I would share them. These are 8 tips to gaining greater capacity as a leader.
A great way to increase capacity is to start making fewer choices and more decisions. Choices are open ended. They leave the options open and discussion on the table, and this takes time and energy from people. Decisions move people forward and close the door behind you. No more wasting time on things that have been decided. Decisions won’t always make you the popular leader, and they sure aren’t always the best thing for team morale, but they will help increase capacity by eliminating the waste of time and energy on open ended choices.
Momentum is a critical piece for leaders to spot. There is massive capacity and success to be found in momentum. Momentum is the result of taking many small steps in the right direction. They build on each other, and next thing you know you have the wind in your sails. When you’ve got momentum, fight for it like you would fight for the last thin mint Girl Scout cookie! Allowing momentum to cary you will take so much off your shoulders as an organizational leader. It allows you to step back and not feel the burden of driving the team through change or progression.
There is great capacity in developing a rock solid culture. I’ve always liked the definition that states culture is “the way we do things around here”. Think of how much time and energy you spend as a leader directing people in how they should accomplish tasks. We try not to do this, but sometimes we have to get involved and provide direction. One way to avoid this capacity drain is working at the creation of a culture that drives direction for you. Create a “way we do things around here” so you can stop wasting time and energy defining this for each unique project or opportunity.
Reinventing things takes massive amounts of time and energy if you want to be sure it is a success. Change works about half of the time, and that leads to a lot of wasted capacity and resources. Leaders who are looking to increase capacity from existing resources should avoid reinventing the wheel and try to minimize change. Instead, do what you can to create consistency.
Empowerment is a great leadership principal. Empowering the people around you to take ownership is important. Help your people understand what they do well and then turn over projects or responsibilities that match up well with their strengths. Encourage them to run with these items, leaning on culture and consistency for guidance instead of yourself.
It is a bit shocking to see the adverse reaction people often have to this suggestion. At some point, I have no idea when, we began equating simplicity with easy, cheap, or basic. Simplicity is far from that – or at least it can be. In fact, simplicity can easily allow you to send excellence through the roof! It is all about consolidating resources. Instead of spreading yourself thin, focus in on knocking a few things out of the park. Simplicity can allow you to do more excellence with less resources by focusing your efforts. It may require some hard decisions on where to focus (make decisions, not choices), but it’s better than trying to do the same amount of things in a more mediocre fashion. Yuck.
It is a commonly held thought that great teams can accomplish much more than any one individual. With that in mind, it would make sense to look at developing stronger teams if we wish to accomplish more with less. If teams have traditionally been more of a formality than a functionality in your organization, then I would encourage you to look at finding greater capacity by developing strong and high performing teams. Great teams can accomplish a lot without having to add people or financial resources. They have a tendency to increase engagement, desire, and creative thought. It’s a great place to find capacity.
Become great at learning. There is nothing worse than making the same mistakes over and over again without fixing them. Leaders and organizations that become great at learning reduce the amount of wasted resources spent on poor decisions and bad endeavors. They realize what isn’t working much quicker and move on. There is significant capacity to be found in becoming a learning organization.
Every organization is different, and every leader is going to need to look in all kinds of unique places to find the ability to meet goals with less resources. While our ultimate goal must be to leave no rock unturned as we look for capacity, these eight places may be areas for you to start exploring. They've helped me!