Let’s Stop Making Leadership More Complicated Than It Has To Be

Leadership can and should be simple. Here are some strategies to help you streamline the way you're managing your teams and your business.

Leading a team often means you’re balancing competing priorities and drawing on a diverse skill set. However, succeeding in leadership doesn’t have to be as complex as people might think. In reality, leadership could be more effective if you simplify rather than overcomplicate your approach.

Here are some strategies to help you streamline the way you’re managing your teams and your business.


Leadership Behavior

Leaders, probably more than others in business, have competing priorities, so one of the core principles to simplify behavior is to prioritize. This means figuring out what’s important and doing it, and then reassessing your priorities as the situation continues to change.

Help your teams prioritize in the same way, and show them how to take the shortest path to an outcome, without compromising on quality. Another thing to consider is if you’re getting in your own way by being too nice. Avoid the need to be nice to everyone. Speak up about poor work practices, unnecessary complexity, and needless emails and meetings. When things trend back towards complexity, be relentless about weeding it out.

Common startup mistakes
© Jacob Lund, YFS Magazine

Consider the desirable qualities that drive simplicity and efficiency when you analyze your own, and your team’s behavior to remove redundant complexity. For example, focus is an essential leadership quality, and it means you, as the leader, are focused on the big stuff, the things that add value.

Clarity in communications, distilling information to the key points, and using clear language and images to support your message are also desirable qualities of simplified, effective leadership. Communicate your vision, purpose, and expectations in clear, straightforward, and impactful ways.

Encouraging collaboration, being appropriately pragmatic about good versus perfect results, and empowering staff are also desirable qualities. Examples of behavior that empowers might mean you trust your staff and avoid micromanaging them, and you listen to their feedback and take it into account. You use the carrot to motivate employees, not the stick or fear.


Leadership Strategy

Simplifying the strategy element of your role as a leader could be as easy as taking an outside-in perspective. Who are your team’s customers, whether they’re internal or external?

Clarify what your customers want and what you can do for them—how you can add value to them. From this, you can build your team or organization’s overarching strategies without overcomplicating your strategic approach.

Focusing on what your customers want helps you strip your strategy down to the core. In addition, look for ways to remove unproductive rules, time-wasters, and low-value activities. This could be in conjunction with technology and software tools. Consider how they serve your customer’s needs and remove them if they’re not supporting these goals.

Simplified leadership might also mean viewing mistakes strategically as opportunities for growth. Instead of dwelling on errors, you lead your team to own and learn from them. Simultaneously, you can lead your team through a strategy of continuous improvement through innovation, training, and the right support.


Leadership Technology

The vast amount of technology tools available can create complexity rather than support your role as a leader. Drivers can include always-on, 24/7 technology and connectedness, messaging, social analytics tools, work processes, and practices.

Some ways you can reduce technology-related complexity in your role and organization includes redesigning workflows and processes that are overly complex.

Common startup mistakes
© Jacob Lund, YFS Magazine

Minimize unproductive communications like too many meetings, emails, and chats. Invest in integrated, simpler technology, and this could include software with integration capabilities. Combine design thinking and process simplification into how you implement technology, whether it’s hardware, software, or your whole IT infrastructure.


Leverage and simplify software use

Leaders could have a blind spot when it comes to the tools they need to do their job. Choosing the right software tools for you and your team, for example, can support the simplification of your processes. So, how do you simplify your software approach? You can choose software based on its ease of use, as well as the following considerations.

  • Industry-specific: Use software designed to be as specific for your industry and needs as possible. For example, take the case of Nando’s, who operates over 250 restaurants across Australia. When Nando’s decided to use a food catering service called Foodstorm—the company grew by over 35%.
  • All-in-one solutions: All-in-one platforms could offer a wide range of features you need while providing different departments with a centralized repository of information. This simplifies your workflow, data input, and processes. It could help generate the customized, in-depth reports you need as a leader.
  • Integration: Additionally, make sure your software integrates with the third-party platforms you use. These could be accounting, marketing, online payment, and other solutions. Integrations minimize manual and administrative work, boosts accuracy, and lets your systems talk to each other.


Keeping organizational management simple

Simplifying the way you lead and manage your business could enable you to focus on what’s most important. By addressing the way you’re leading through behavior, strategy, technology, and software, you could become an even more effective leader and successfully support your organization in achieving its growth and profit goals.


Luke Fitzpatrick is a Forbes contributor and a guest lecturer at Sydney University—in his past, he worked for startups in both South Korea and Australia.


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