I was pruning my rosebushes this weekend, trying to promote some new flower growth. This is an important thing for most flowering plants, because they’ll continue to send energy and nutrients to all parts of the plant – even the diseased and already-bloomed parts. The plant doesn’t know it’s wasting fuel and energy.
When you prune properly, you help your flowering plants to use their energy wisely. The plant can no longer waste, so it only flows nutrients to areas that can really flourish. As a result you see the fruits and blooms of energy well spent!
This same concept applies well to leadership.
As I’ve witnessed and worked with newer leaders and leaders with increasing responsibility, this seems to be one of their greatest challenges: knowing where and how to spend their time; understanding where they can be most effective. One of the biggest barriers to their success is that everyone wants a piece of their time. Everyone.
A great leader knows where to prune. They’re able to assess what needs to be off-loaded or delegated, and when they should just plain say “no!” They know where to target their energy instead; where they can make the greatest impact.
Here are four categories of “disease” that require pruning for the health of your leadership, team and organization. Leaders should explore these carefully to determine what makes the cut!
- Time-Wasters – anything that makes you busy but can’t be traced to productivity. And don’t think for a second that building necessary relationships falls into this category! That very much factors into your success and productivity as a leader!
- Energy Vampires – the people who bring you down every time. They make you feel “less than” on a regular basis. Instead, surround yourself with positive people, as well as those that will challenge and support your growth and learning. Oh, and make sure you eat and drink to support healthy energy levels too…and I’m not talking about pounding Red Bull, either, by the way! (Caffeine SO dehydrates you!)
- Bottom Feeders – those low performing, never going to get out of your bottom 10%, but takes up so much of your time and energy employees. Sorry, it’s the hard truth. They’re probably not in the right job, and frankly, you’d be doing them a favor by letting them go, so they can perform well (and feel better about themselves) in the right position! Then, you can invest your time more wisely with your superstars and up-and-comers who bring results and energize those around them.
- Culture Killers – any people or practices that do not align with what you preach about your culture. People whose actions don’t support the culture only contaminate others – and this disease spreads. You can’t let them infect others. And, you must look closely at your policies and practices too. Many times they don’t encourage behaviors that would help the culture to flourish. If they don’t, they’re not needed anymore.
If leaders can pinpoint these and carefully prune them, they can focus their energy on vision, positive momentum and growth, building teams, culture and leadership.
It’s widely known that you can identify a tree by its fruit. Only with careful attention, proper pruning and focused energy on the right things can the fruits of success grow.
Is it time for you to do some pruning? What other signs do you look for?
Erin Schreyer is President of Sagestone Partners and a Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker. Erin is passionate about building into people and bringing out their leadership qualities to help them excel in all areas of life.