What should I stop doing?

The hardest thing as a CEO to know is: of the many things we do what are the ones that really, in the long run, add no value to the business, in other words, where am I wasting my time and energy?

I have often thought “if only I knew before I went to that appointment what I know eight months down the track and after all that work that there was no real synergy with that organisation. I was operating from the idea of ‘wishful thinking’ and there is no power in that, hoping that the relationship or business activity will be fruitful.

What on earth should I stop doing – of all these things on my plate? I cannot work it out. I think if I put enough energy and effort into everything I do – rule of thumb some of it will work. But really that is a massive opportunity cost on my time.

So when asked the question by author of What got you here won’t get you there Marshall Goldsmith – I was challenged to have a deeper look at my real contribution to the growth of RedBalloon. The point is from where I sit I cannot see. So I need to ask people what they see.

This week I have been asking the very confronting question: ‘How can I be a better: leader/manager/wife/mother/blogger/tweeter/speaker/daughte, etc – all the roles that I play. This I believe will give me a greater insight into how I can best contribute.

Goldsmith tells us that there are four classic challenges to leadership:

  • Wanting to win too much (at the expense of bringing people with you).
  • Adding too much value (can damage commitment with those people around you). I remember one of my bosses years ago used to rewrite every word I wrote. In the end I stopped trying because I knew he would just do it for me anyway.
  • Telling the world how smart we are (ho-hum, get over yourself, you didn’t do it on your own).
  • When someone brings you something of interest – responding ‘I already knew that’.

Remember the old adage ‘An achiever is all about me: A leader it’s all about them.’

The greatest gift of any leader is to listen – and to give up trying to be better than anyone else. A leader is a person who unites the group based on a shared sense of purpose.

Goldsmith poses an interesting challenge: If someone tells you something – listen without judgement and give up responding with a ‘no’, ‘but’ or ‘however’. If you do start the sentence with one of those words you are effectively ‘belittling’ their contribution, because it appears as if you are trying to prove that you know more.

In addition to listening without judgement, he suggested learning as much as you can and offering as much help as you can… it will transform your leadership.

In doing this I plan to work out what I should stop doing… and do more of the things that are adding the most value.

Naomi Simson is considered one of Australia’s ‘Best Bosses’. She is an employee engagement advocate and practices what she preaches in her own business. RedBalloon has been named as one of only six Hewitt Best Employers in Australia and New Zealand for 2009 and awarded an engagement scorecard of over 90% two years in a row – the average in Australian businesses is 55%. RedBalloon has also been nominated by BRW as being in the top 10 Best Places to Work in Australia behind the likes of Google. One of Australia’s outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a passionate speaker inspiring people on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. Naomi writes a blogand is a published author – and has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded –RedBalloon.com.au.


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