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Work Smarter, Not Harder

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After executive coach and guest velocity guru Cherie Healey’s last article, we got lots of requests for more! So we’ve invited Cherie back for more guidance on building Brand YOU — ways to move beyond obstacles, build your personal brand, and harness your full leadership potential. We hope you enjoy this second of five Brand YOU articles:

Work Smarter, Not Harder

The moment you step up to true leadership is the moment you decide to no longer tolerate obstacles. You become an alchemist, deeply committed to transforming anything that stands in your way. A talented leader sees obstacles as impermanent and is an expert at clearing the way to success for themselves and their organization. Some of the trickiest roadblocks to remove are those on the inside—the self-inflicted obstacles.

Relics of the industrial era and cultural programming still have us putting in long hours—as if more work equals better work  Especially when budgets or ratings tank, it’s easy to react by shifting into “work harder” mode.  Everyone is familiar with the cost of this approach, as well as the Law of Diminishing Returns.  Adrenal fatigue, burnout, loss of creativity, resentment, attrition, divorce…you know.

1. Better Results, Not Longer Hours
Break the cycle by slowing down and working smarter, not harder.  Results aren’t tied directly to hours, and results are what you should be after.   Moreover, if you feel pressured to work long hours, chances are your team does too.  Create a work environment that truly prizes results.  One way to do this is by letting your team optimize their own schedules so they work when they are at their best.  When they do deliver the results you’re looking for, make sure they know they are appreciated and take note of what worked.

2. Plan to Think
It’s also important to block out time each day to think.  This means strategizing and contemplating the purpose of each item on your to do list.  What value do they all add?  Do they build toward your desired results?  An overworked leader may not think she has time to devote to contemplation, but this is what separates good leaders from great ones.  Allow your team to make time each day for activities that compel them to think and strategize.  Not only will this make them more creative, you will learn a lot about each person you work with and how they solve problems.

3. Lead by Example
Above all, always lead by example.  When results are elusive, leaders are susceptible to others’ fears and can start demanding results at all cost.  The wise leader does not drop into fear—she is aware of it and rises above it.   The wise leader gives her team what they need to think big and to produce quality deliverables.  In tough times, you must be the calm in the storm.  When you work smarter and create an environment conducive to working smarter, your team will do the same.  The results will follow.

And by the way, WorkBoard can take the labor out of being a leader.  Smartly manage your to do list and your team’s around strategic goals and priorities.  It can help you work smarter and be happier.

— Cherie Healey, velocity guru for WorkBoard, Game Changer and Leadership Coach

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