KISS for leaders: Keep, Increase, Start and Stop. ~Nick Obolensky
I don't know about anyone else, but for me, it always feels like the weekend after Thanksgiving life turns into a sprint to Christmas. Even though I no longer buy gifts, there are still cards to send, events to attend and projects I desperately want to complete before the end of the year. Given that backdrop, it was a great reminder this week to read the words of UK-based leadership development consultant, Nick Obolensky.
Most of us have heard the acronym for KISS as either "keep it simple stupid," or "keep it short and simple." Nick's version was created specifically for leaders – Keep, Increase, Start, and Stop. He says that the "Stops" are hardest for leaders to identify because we all like to think that everything we do is important. Nick has found that it's actually the "Stops" that end up achieving the most significant positive results for the executives he counsels.
Nick shares a wonderful example. A marketing executive was instructed by his CEO to join a team that would be meeting one day per week and that demand made him angry. The executive worked with his assistant to eliminate some of the work he did and meetings that he typically attended in order to free up one day each week. Some time later, Nick saw this executive and asked him why this had made him so angry. His reply: "Nobody noticed."
We all like to think that everything we do makes a difference, but the reality is everything doesn't. So how do we find those tasks, meetings, projects, etc. that really matter? I think we experiment and hold ourselves accountable to what we observe. "Time" fascinates me. It's something that we all have the exact same amount of. It doesn't matter if you’re male/female, black/white, rich/poor, we all have 24 hours each day – no more, no less. That means the only way to increase time or start something new is to stop doing something else. We can't run to Target and buy more time. We can only get more time by stopping something. So we have to stop some things and then see what happens. Did anybody notice?
This week I had an interesting conversation with my financial advisor. He manages many millions of dollars of assets for hundreds of clients. He's always been very successful and is one of the hardest working people I know. He told me that several years ago he released over $23 million in assets he managed to another financial advisor and he's preparing to nearly double that number and release another $40+ million. He's going to "stop" trying to serve clients who aren't a good fit for him (many times that "fit" is more about personality than it is dollars). He'll then be able to devote more time to serving the clients he enjoys by giving them better service. He said that last time he did this he expected his income to decrease. But the opposite happened, his income actually increased.
I'll be the first to admit that this sounds counterintuitive. If I "stop" doing some things I’ll actually become more productive. I'll become more productive because I will have made room for new things and more important things that really do matter.
The mad rush of the holidays is a great reminder for leaders to work on their KISSing skills. What should you Keep, Increase, Start, and Stop?