A ‘bias towards action’ is a central quality in leadership. But to be truly effective, you also need to know when to look at the assignment on you plate and declare, “I am not going to tackle that.”
The key is knowing which projects to keep, and which to set aside.
I once worked with a leader who had two prominent work trays on his desk. They were labeled the “Frank Sinatra Pile” and the “Outbox”. The Frank Sinatra Pile, he loved to explain, was full of things he needed to “Doo be doo be doo…” (This leader had a quirky sense of humor). These were items that demanded his attention, and that required action.
But he was much prouder of his “Outbox”. These were not projects he had completed. These were projects he had declared he would not touch.
And therein lay one of the keys to his effectiveness; knowing what to keep, and what to move off his desk.
So when should you move something from your things to “Doo be doo be doo” pile into your Outbox? Here are 4 times you should not tackle that project…
1. When you can use it to develop a member of your team.
Could this project be an opportunity to stretch a member of your team? Don’t hoard every assignment. See if someone else can be developed by handling this task.
2. When the project no longer adds sufficient value.
A great idea a year ago, or even a month ago, might not carry the day today. Have the discernment to know if this project remains relevant.
3. When the project is simply not on plan.
Not every opportunity should be embraced, no matter how alluring. Always ask, “Is this new opportunity on plan, or is it a distraction? Swat aside the distractions.
4. When someone else is more qualified.
Just because it is on your plate, does not mean you’re the best person for the job.
Look at the most pressing priorities vying for your attention. But before you take the plunge and commit to any of them, run them through this simple 4-point grid.
You may well find these one, or all of them, are items you do not need to doo be doo be doo.