In leadership, as in life, using the right tool in the wrong way, or at the wrong time, can do more harm than good.
Have you ever tried to tighten a flat-head screw using a Phillips screwdriver? Or what about trying to remove a lug nut with the wrong sized lug wrench?
You might have a great tool, but using it in the wrong way, or at the wrong time, just won’t work.
The same is true in leadership. Choosing a great leadership tool, but applying it in the wrong way or at the wrong time, could be counter-productive.
Here are three of the most common tools found in the arsenals of most leaders. Each has a positive purpose, but each has the potential of limiting your leadership effectiveness too:
1. The Strategic Plan
Every leader should develop a strategic plan in order to achieve the goal, and the plan should be followed.
Being overly bound to the plan can thwart creativity and can limit the exploration of new, fresh ideas. Sometimes the breakthrough idea you need is to be found just outside the parameters of your carefully devised plan.
Have a plan. Follow the plan. But don’t be restricted by the plan.
2. The Organization Chart
Effective leaders place strong emphasis on creating comprehensive organization charts, and they make sure everyone knows their place within the chart. In his groundbreaking book, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, Patrick Lencioni emphasizes that leaders must always reinforce organizational clarity.
Tools like organization charts really matter.
It can be a short walk from “Know your place in the organization”, to “Don’t help or support team members from other parts of the organization.”
Don’t allow the org chart to limit contributions throughout the organization.
3. The Job Description
Everyone wants to know what is expected of them, and the trusty job description is a fine tool for accomplishing that noble task.
An obsessively-held job description can turn a team member from “All for one, and one for all” into “that’s not in my job-description”.
Job descriptions matter. But don’t let them limit your contributions.
Each of these tools are important in your leadership. So learn to apply them in the right way, at the right time.
Otherwise you could feel like you’re hammering a nail with a screwdriver.