How to Be an Effective, Lazy Leader (con’t).
The third challenge with filling in for Google is I am keeping people from growing. Growth comes from trying, failing, getting back up and trying again. I can give insight from my own experience, but for the most part it is healthy for people to learn for themselves rather than just parroting what they hear from me. It also leaves me a lot more time for my siesta.
2. Don’t be Jiffy Lube
Every time I take my car to Jiffy Lube for an oil change they find 15 other things I urgently need to fix. “Mr. Surratt, your catalytic converter isn’t converting, your tie rods are untied, and your oil pump has pumped its last.” They don’t understand my philosophy of car repair; if you ignore a problem long enough it will eventually go away. Unfortunately this philosophy hasn’t worked out so well as a car owner.
On the other hand, its actually a decent leadership philosophy. Similar to our urge to be Google, as leaders we often want to jump in and fix things. We jump on every urgent email thread with the solution to the problem. What I’ve discovered, however, is that if I’ll hang back and not provide the instant solution, many problem will indeed fix themselves. Sometimes the solution isn’t exactly what I would have suggested, but its usually good enough. And it didn’t interrupt my afternoon game of golf. (I haven’t golfed in years, but you get the point.)
3. Don’t be Netflix
Netflix constantly has suggestions for what I want to watch next. “Because you watched Ted Lasso you might like Bend It Like Beckham, or Drive to Survive, or Ted.” You know me so well, Netflix. Leaders are tempted to do the same thing, but instead of making suggestions based on the other persons background, all of our suggestions are based on our own experience. “When I was a youth pastor back in the 90’s, before you were born, lock-ins were really big. You should do a lock-in.” Never mind that lock-ins and the Backstreet Boys have had been equally popular with teenagers over the past 20 years. We mistakenly think our nostalgic suggestions are even remotely helpful to this generation of leaders.
A much better approach than Netflix is the Braintrust process developed by Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar. His book, Creativity Inc., is worth the read, but here’s an excerpt describing the Braintrust process.
4. Don’t be Waffle House
Breakfast at the Waffle House may be the most American experience possible. Truck drivers and bar tenders sharing a meal with a sweet little family of four on their first foray into the world of smothered and covered hash browns. And breakfast is served 24/7/365, the Awful Waffle is always there for you. Even on Christmas Day. Especially on Christmas Day.
Great lazy leaders don’t share Waffle House’s hours. There are hours of the day, days of the week, and weeks of the year when you aren’t open for business. You don’t answer email, respond to texts, or “jump on a quick call.” Waffle House leaders burn out leaders, including themselves. 99% of leadership challenges either resolve themselves or can wait until you get back. You aren’t a short-order cook in a greasy kitchen.
A healthy, effective, sometimes lazy leader is a gift to the church, non-profit, or company they work for. They empower the leaders around them, and present a model of life-giving leadership to everyone in the organization. So take that nap, play that round of golf, and practice the art of lazy leadership.
This article on being a lazy leader originally appeared here, and is used by permission.