A challenge for every leader is to overcome limiting beliefs that we have developed over time. Limiting beliefs are those thoughts that we inherently accept to be true, even when they don’t serve us or help us reach our potential.
Over my career, one of the areas where I’ve seen this damage leadership is when it comes to productivity. It’s not a secret that I believe good Time Management to be one of the foundational aspects of effective leadership.
Limiting beliefs in this area can really damage productivity and reduce leadership effectiveness. So in this post, I want to take a look at some of these limiting beliefs and perhaps make you think differently about the way you lead.
1. “I’m Too Busy” Damages Productivity
The limiting belief of “I’m too busy” is rife in our workplaces. Unfortunately being busy (as opposed to being productive and effective) is still worn as a badge of honour.
Busy people are often seen as more important, in demand and at the top of their game. Of course, there is some truth to this.
When you’re busy, it can often make you feel important and valued, which can lead to higher motivation. This is a good thing.
Where I see this limiting belief damage productivity is when it starts to have an effect on a leader’s ability to lead and support their teams. If I’m so busy that I’m never available to support or provide advice to my team, that’s bad leadership on my part.
If I’m in meetings all day meaning that I can’t actually complete my own work, that’s not good leadership either. Not only are you letting down your boss, you are also showing your team that it’s OK to let things slip because you’re “too busy”.
“Too Busy” Is Up to You
Being too busy should never be used as an excuse, because to me, it’s a choice. The way we spend our time is a choice. Choosing to go to a pointless meeting is a choice. Choosing to remain too busy and let work slip is a choice.
So let’s change it. If you are too busy to fulfil important commitments, let’s look at some options. You could:
- Negotiate or push back on some less-valuable tasks, making time for more important work. This means you need to understand the priority of your work.
- Delegate tasks or meetings, to give yourself more time to spend elsewhere; or
- Try to find other ways to complete the work, that don’t take up as much time or effort, but still meet the expectations of the people who want the work done.
These are just a few options you could try. Naturally some roles and workplaces are busier than others, but if you are drowning in work, stressed and unhappy, well … choosing to stay in your current role is simply another choice that you can make.
2. “My Team Aren’t Good Enough to Take That On”
Another of the limiting beliefs that restricts leaders is the thought that their team members aren’t capable enough to take on more important work or leadership roles.
I know this happens in the workplace, because other leaders have told me about their team members being “useless” or “not leadership material” in the past.
I’m not saying that every one of your team members is going to be a superstar. But what I dislike is that often these statements come from making assumptions and judgements which may not reflect reality.
In most cases, I’d much rather give my team members an opportunity to step up, than assume they can’t. It’s easy to overlook the quiet achievers who may have great potential, but lack the forceful “alpha” characteristics that many people assume are required for leadership or taking on greater responsibility.
Lacking Belief In Your Team Means You’ll Damage Productivity by Holding Onto More Work
This belief can damage productivity, because it means that you’re more likely to keep work to yourself than delegate it. This can also lead to micromanagement, which can be a huge source of motivation problems for your team.
Ditching this belief and showing trust in your team will help you to delegate some of your workload, and build confidence and skills in your team at the same time. Sure, you’ll need to maintain some oversight of the work. But over time, your team members will grow and you’ll do this less and less.
Also remember that sometimes, the belief you have in your team can directly affect their ability to step up and deliver. You can read more about this in this post about self-fulfilling prophecy.
Related article: Why You Should Provide Leadership Opportunities.
Related article: Are you a Micromanaging Boss? Here’s How to Break the Habit.
3. Damaging Productivity Through Perfectionism
Another limiting belief that I see in the workplace is that some leaders believe that work has to be perfect before it can be shared. For some leaders, this can really damage productivity and cripple effectiveness, as they tweak their report or presentation for the 57th time, never feeling that it’s quite “good enough”.
The perfectionist leader has their strong points of course. If you need attention to detail and the highest of quality, they could be the person for you.
However, in most cases, we don’t need things to be perfect. We just need to complete them. Sure, we can fine-tune everything again and again, but the question needs to be asked:
“If you’re spending all your time perfecting your work – what are you not doing, that could be more valuable?”
Stop Damaging Productivity By Tailoring Your Effort
Most of the value in our work comes because others can share, use and consume it. If it never gets out there, or takes too long to arrive, we run the risk of having wasted our effort.
To help you shift this belief, make sure you tailor your effort to match the “care factor” of the people who will use your work. In other words, spend your effort where it really matters.
When you’re presenting your evaluation report to the Board of Directors, then maybe some extra effort is required. But if you’re giving your weekly update to your team, it’s probably not worth spending the extra time to get it perfect.
Related article: How Being a Perfectionist Leader is Killing Your Leadership.
Productivity for leaders is important. Without it, we can drown in work and waste our time. And when we do this, we cause a knock-on effect for our team members.
Poor productivity at a leadership level can damage motivation in your team and make team members feel vulnerable and unsupported when you don’t have the time to support them, or when you make knee-jerk decisions at the last minute.
So let’s start breaking down these limiting beliefs and help to create better, more productive workplaces for our teams.
What are some other limiting beliefs you’ve seen? And what do you struggle with when it comes to being productive? Leave your stories below!
Alternatively, if you would like to ask a question or need some help, you can send me a private message through my contact page.