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Are you lazy enough?

Leadership

3 min read

The CEO : the laziest person in the company

You should have the fewest emails in your inbox, the fewest papers on your desk and almost never be the one who puts out today’s fire. To the casual observer, and to the “hard working” part of you, the part of you who thinks that your leadership is measured by your quantity of output, this looks like the worst kind of laziness.

It’s actually a huge accomplishment.

Choose Not Doing Over DoingIt’s reasonable and good to model a work ethic for others - it’s part of creating a culture that really cares. The problems arise when you try to model your work ethic through the skillset that got you there - instead of by stepping into your new job as a leader. Your new job description has one requirement: to care so deeply about your vision for the business and what it will take to get there, that you become merciless in delegating technical work and resisting the urge to fill in the gaps for others.

There’s nothing wrong with technical work; these days it’s a rare manager that doesn’t spend some part of their day drawing on their specific skills and training. It’s just not why you’re in the role you’re in. It’s not how you should be earning your money.

There’s nothing wrong with technical work; these days it’s a rare manager that doesn’t spend some part of their day drawing on their specific skills and training.
It’s just not why you’re in the role you’re in."

Maybe you're a solo entrepreneur or have a small practice that actually does rely entirely on your skill today, and you're having trouble relating to this. It’s actually even more relevant to you if you really want a sustainable business that doesn’t just require more and more of you. Start with one ‘lazy’ hour three days a week. Actually schedule that time into your calendar. The technician in you will tell you it’s not worth it unless you can do it “full time.” Don’t be fooled.

As a leader in an improving company - and what other viable kind is there? - you have to choose not doing over doing. Only spending time on work that is comfortable for you - work that draws on your technical expertise and know how - is the trap. If that’s what you’re spending your day on - who’s holding the vision for the company? Who’s looking out one, two and three years from now, reading market conditions today, diagnosing subtle organizational dysfunction and personnel issues, and most importantly understanding what your next customer wants?

Your time is more valuable than anyone else who works in your business. If it’s not, or if you can’t accept that it is, then you’re not yet living up to the title on your door. Leadership is making a place for others to do more, to be inspired and to find meaning - from your own self-interest in the growth of your enterprise.

You have to be mercilessly lazy.

It takes incredible discipline and strength to deal with other people’s perceptions that you’re not pulling your weight. You will never change those minds, but you will touch the hearts of your best people. They’ll feel honored - and challenged - by the trust and respect you show them by delegating responsibility (and authority) for things you were holding on to. This may be the single hardest thing for a manager to do - it goes against all of our conditioning and everything that got us to where we are as leaders. Which is why it’s the secret to getting your role inside of you.

So, what can you not do today? What gap in your operations should you not fix today (even though you could) and instead delegate that responsibility to someone else? The “lazier” you get, the more you’ll see it’s the hardest work you’ll ever do.

Jonathan Raymond

Written by Jonathan Raymond

Jonathan was a frequent contributor to the EMyth blog from 2011-2015. His articles focus on marketing, branding, and organizational culture.

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