Question of the Month: If I have very limited time available for leadership activities, what should I spend the time on?
Answer: You should focus on providing each of your direct reports with what will most enable him/her to contribute and grow. Consider each direct report in turn. Ask yourself what he/she NEEDS from you right now in terms of seven possibilities: care, means, ability, censure, discipline, praise and reward? Then ensure that you use the insight gained by asking yourself, “Should I translate this into a leadership action that I can take now or in the immediate future?”
Continue to ask what the person needs from you NOW and going forward which will progress them in terms of their contribution to become the best they can be.
Specific, deliberate, focused leadership actions – for example, raising a standard, clarifying expectations, removing an obstacle, coaching one critical competency, watching the game and giving feedback, holding the person accountable – have a cumulative positive effect over time. They are far more effective than a one-size-fits-all approach or a medium term development plan.
Do the appropriate thing with each person who reports to you, and let the outcome take care of itself.