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Doing Less, Leading More

| February 4, 2014

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Tuesday Reading is an essay, “Doing Less, Leading More” by Ed Batista.  The essay recently appeared in the Harvard Business Review’s Blog Network.  Batista is an executive coach and an Instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He writes regularly on issues related to coaching and professional development at <>.

This essay was recently noted in HBR’s “The Daily Idea” with the lead “Don’t Be a Doer-in-Chief.”  There Batista noted that being a go-getter, someone who moves fast, takes on and successfully completes a large number of projects, always turning out high quality work, is what gets one noticed early in a career.  This same mentality of being a pacesetter, however, isn’t what is needed for successful leadership.  Dan Goleman notes that it “destroys climate [and] many employees feel overwhelmed by the pacesetter’s demands.”

As we learned in the Leaders Program when we discussed Leading – Managing – Doing, the skills you use to succeed as a staff member are not those that make you a successful leader.  Batista makes the point that continuing to rely on our abilities as individual contributors greatly limits what you can actually contribute and puts you at a disadvantage to your peers who are better able to mobilize and motivate others.  Leaders focus on 

  • Providing direction by establishing the vision, developing strategies, and coping with change
  • Aligning those who work with her/him by communicating the direction, engaging individuals in implementation, and building commitment
  • Motivating her/his staff by holding up the anner, coaching and empowering, and recognizing and rewarding success

All of which is very different from doing.

So, if you as a leader are still doing what you were doing before you became a leader – through formal promotion or by people looking up to you for direction – you need to pause and reflect of how you are spending your time.  Perhaps, you need to make some changes.


Have a tremendous week.  .  .  .     jim