Want to know how to do more with less?

As I work with my clients, a common theme that I hear is that they are expected to do more with less. Shorter deadlines mean less time; streamlined teams means fewer people and budget constraints reduce resources. It can feel like a no-win situation that leaves leaders feeling helpless and hopeless.

So, what’s the answer?

The answer is actually a question: ‘Are you giving the best of your leadership and enabling others to bring the best of theirs?
When I ask my clients this question, the answer – if they are being honest with themselves and me – is often ‘No’. This is completely understandable; meeting the ‘more with less’ challenge day in, day out is exhausting.

So, how much leadership capacity is being left on the table?

Well, that depends on the situation, but some clients have acknowledged that they are bringing less than 50% of their leadership capacity as a result of stress, exhaustion and burnout. As you can imagine, the impact of this on their performance and that of their teams is significant.

Leveraging this latent leadership capacity is critical for leaders and organisations to meet the ‘more with less’ challenge and it’s going to become even more so as the demands of work become more complex. Accessing talent has always been a critical competitive advantage for organisations. But there is now a growing need for new skills and capabilities as work demands and skills requirements change to meet technology and market developments. The labour market is tight, and as organisations compete for talent, it is going to become more important for them to access the leadership capacity that’s being left on the table and grow talent internally to survive and thrive.

And research indicates that employees want this. The 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Trends report suggests that employees are looking to organizations to take a more personalised approach to their professional learning and one that is inherently integrated with their work.

What are the implications for leaders?

Organisations and leaders need to proactively foster a culture of continuous learning and intentionally develop their own and their team members leadership capacities and skills. If they do, they’ll reap the rewards. Leaders who actively work to engage their team members, get better performance, report that their job is easier and experience less stress.

So, what can a leader do?

Adopt a mindset the recognises team members as valuable people with skills, rather than people with valuable skills. Here are three ways to put that into practice:

1. Focus on relationships
Help team members feel valued, confident, empowered and connected by showing genuine interest, care and concern through leadership practices such as providing formal and informal growth and development opportunities; being available for timely coaching and advice and helping employees build networks to further their career.

2. Talk to people one-on-one regularly
These are not formal ‘check-in’ conversations, they are about getting to know each team member – their goals and aspirations, preferences, talents and concerns. Understanding each person’s motivations means that you can lead them in a way that respects and aligns with them. It also means that your team members know that you are interested in them beyond the confines of their role at work.

3. Communicate clear goals, set high expectations and praise good work
Be clear and specific about the work needed to make meaningful progress to meet KPIs and team goals. When leaders do this, they can set high expectations for performance because the team is clear about what needs to be done and who is doing it. Praise good work and personalise recognition to foster self-confidence and individual pride. Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated; meaningful appreciation from a leader is a core driver of employee motivation, engagement and performance.

Leaders need to have energy, the right attitude and mindset to meet the ‘more with less’ challenge.  By using these three leadership practices, you’ll generate positive energy, foster a can-do, action-oriented attitude and create a mindset of contribution and collaboration. In doing so, you’ll be leveraging the best of your own leadership capacity and that of your team.  

Want to know more about how to leverage leadership for yourself and your team?
Click here to find out more about Paige’s  Leading Well  Workshop.

Copyright 2019: Dr Paige Williams

Paige Williams, PhD

Paige Williams, PhD

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach

Paige helps leaders elevate their impact to lead teams who deliver results and create a culture that feeds high performance.

Feeling well. Doing well. Leading well.