Leading Beyond the Daily Grind: Vision Over Management

We sometimes get so caught up in our day-to-day management that we cannot implement our visions as leaders.

This is especially true for new leaders, who often come into posts with great ideas but are unaware of the daily workload associated with their new role.

One of my favourite sayings is ‘It’s hard to remember your job is to drain the swamp when you’re up to your neck in alligators’.

As leaders, if we don’t take care of the alligators, we will not be successful, but sometimes there can be so many that we end up spending all of our time just fighting alligators. If that happens, then we have fallen into the trap of managing—just taking care of our daily business—rather than leading.

We need to find some breathing space; we need to focus on the future; if we don’t, our time will just be consumed, and so will that of our teams, and we will end up fighting to maintain the status quo.

That’s not leadership. Leadership is about challenging the status quo, taking things to the next level of performance, and improving things.

We may need to be prepared to work longer hours at the start to get well on top of things so that we can start to implement the tasks that will improve things, rather than just keeping our heads above water.

We may have to delegate much of the day-to-day work or take on extra resources to cope with this increase in workload as we free ourselves so that we can plan for the future.

It will be well worth the extra effort or the extra costs because if we don’t do this at the start, we will find it harder and harder to do later on.

As the saying goes, once we get wrapped up in alligator killing, it can become difficult to remember that our job is to clear the swamp.

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