The Time Starved Manager: #3 The Manager’s Superpower

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There is an emerging currency for leaders.

This new currency has the ability to differentiate leaders and set leaders on an accelerated course towards success.

Think for a minute what currency is and how it is used. Currency is something you exchange for something that is valuable to your or needed by you. You exchange cash for your favorite latte at Starbucks or to fill your car with gas. Currency facilitates a transaction and results in you getting something valuable to you.

There is an emerging currency for leaders. There is an emerging currency for leaders that, if accumulated, can really start to separate and allow the leader to deliver more and more value.

That emerging leadership currency is capacity.

Now, I’m not talking about capacity the way we normally do. This is not referring to a unit a measure in your capacity model. This is not explicitly talking about time. This is not just about how much of something you need in order to get something done. That is not capacity in this context.

Capacity in this context is the ability to work smart. It is the ability to create space in your brain to focus on the work that matters the most and start to control and minimize the impact of the tyranny of the urgent. Capacity is not about working harder. Capacity in this context is about learning to work smarter so you can get more and more high impact, high value work done. The leader who is able to create more and more of this type of capacity will differentiate themselves from those around them.

Capacity become the superpower of a manager. We discussed in the last blog the villain we all face as organizational leaders. That villain is the tyranny of the urgent and you can learn about that villain here — LINK. The tyranny of the urgent dominates us and our focus is consumed by the urgent work around us. This means we have little to no time to spend on the important work and the important work either does not get done or moves into the urgent category.

This is an exhausting and frustrating place to live as an organizational leader, but our ability to create capacity becomes the superpower we can leveraged to battle the tyranny of the urgent.

The good news is this type of capacity can be created. We can learn to work smarter, but it will require intentional effort. This will not happen on accident.

Creating this type of capacity requires investment to drive up two components: Capabilities and emotional intelligence. The more we drive up and develop our capabilities in addition to driving up our emotional intelligence skills will result in our ability to create more and more capacity. As a result, we have more space to think about and drive action to get the important high impact, high value work done.

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Are you investing in yourself to develop your leadership skills? Are you investing time to drive up your capabilities so you become increasingly more effective and efficient at what you do? Are you engaging your team to help them develop their capabilities so they can work smarter?

Your capabilities are simply your abilities to do things. These are your inventories of skills, abilities, experience, strengths, knowledge, etc. These are what you bring to the table every day and what you leverage to get your work done.

The important thing to understand about capabilities is they can be developed and enhanced. You can learn to improve the capabilities you have today and develop new capabilities to support your responsibilities and aspirations. You are not stuck where you are. These can be developed.

The more you develop, enhance and learn new capabilities, the more effective and efficient you work. This will allow you to create capacity and learn to work smarter. As you learn to work smarter, you will create more space to think about and drive action on the important work on your to-do list.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is our ability to recognize, read and respond. Think about your experience, either personally or through someone else, where they negatively impacted their influence as a leader because of the lack of self-awareness, social-awareness or self-regulation. We all have stories to tell. I once had a mentor who would constantly remind me that we are all “one dumb decision away from blowing it.” That resonates with me and reminds me of the power of emotional intelligence.

Think about it from a capacity perspective. Think about all the chaos and inefficiency on your team caused by the lack of emotional intelligence. Think about the conflict, miscommunication, interpersonal tension, lack of engagement and other factors impacted by the lack of emotional intelligence skills.

Driving up emotional intelligence as a manager and for your team helps to minimize the chaos, confusion, noise and distraction caused by the impact of a low emotionally intelligent environment — miscommunications, accountability gaps, conflicts not resolved in a healthy way, strained working relationships, disengagement, people working from weakness vs strength, etc.

Minimizing or eliminating these activities that drains team will help you, the leader, and your team create capacity so you can focus on the important tasks you need to drive as a team.

Capacity becomes the weapon you can use to combat the tyranny of the urgent. Capacity allows you to free up space that otherwise would be consumed by the tyranny of the urgent and allows you to focus on other manager activities that need your attention.

Focus on ways you can increase your leadership capabilities and increase your emotional intelligence skills. These will both allow you to start working smarter and create the type of capacity that will unlock your ability to focus on the work that really matters and drives us value for you personally, for your team and for your organization.

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