Most leaders will agree that the three major limiting factors to actually getting work done are money, people, and time. It is the primary job of every leader to give their teams as much of these three resources as possible to get their jobs completed. In fact when someone is failing to perform well in their role on the team, more often than not it has to do with one of these three resources not being in adequate supply to get the job done. Even in these tough economic times there is more than enough money out there to get a compelling dream financed and people can always be recruited and hired. But there is no sales pitch you can give, no manner to recruit, and no way to purchase more time. It is the ultimate limiting resource to getting work done. In his book, “The Effective Executive,” Peter Drucker put it this way.
“The supply of time is totally inelastic. No matter how high the demand, the supply will not go up. There is no price for it and no marginal utility curve for it. Moreover, time is totally perishable and cannot be stored. Yesterday’s time is gone forever and will never come back. Time is, therefore, always in exceedingly short supply.” Peter Drucker
I can remember early in ministry feeling as though I had no control over how I spent my time. It seemed as though no matter the direction I turned someone, or something was there clamoring for my attention. For a lot of reasons, immaturity perhaps being at the top of the list, I quickly became a slave to my schedule and to the tyranny of the urgent. One day I can remember having a phone conversation with my father and complaining about how busy I was and how he, “Just wouldn’t understand since he didn’t work in the Ministry World.” Yea right, he wouldn’t understand. The Executive Director of a Navy Submarine Base, overseeing thousands of employees, millions upon millions of dollars of government assets, negotiating with Labor Unions, providing the proper support to the world’s most elite Attack Subs, and the crews that manned them. Yea he wouldn’t understand my time management problems at all would he? Boy did I have a lot to learn. He simply said to me, “Son you are either in charge of your schedule, or your schedule is in charge of you.” Sound advice to be sure. But how do you know if you’re spending your time on the right things? Later in life I found three great questions in, “The Effective Executive,” by Peter Drucker that I reference from time to time that have acted as a great filter as to how I try and spend my time. If you’re like me you probably tend to drift on occasion and you’ll find yourself needing to come back to these questions every 6 months to a year.
#1 What would happen if this didn’t get done?
If the answer is nothing, then the obvious answer is stop doing it! It’s amazing how many things we do that if we stopped doing simply would not be missed.
#2 What am I doing that someone else could do just as well as me or better than me?
The simple truth is that you cannot do everything that needs to be done. When you refuse to empower others not only do you end up playing the role of the martyr carrying an unnecessary burden that is fundamentally born out of pride and insecurity but you rob others of the opportunity to develop and use their gifts and abilities to get the job done.
#3 What do I do that wastes my team’s time and doesn’t contribute to their effectiveness?
Having the courage to plainly ask this question to those who directly report to you and then taking the time to actually listen to them is step one. Step two may take even more courage, actually doing something about their recommendations.
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