Leadership Success and Its Greatest Barrier: the Law of Administrivia

Written by Gerald Czarnecki

Years ago, a very wise, and often cynical boss of mine asked me for a definition of management. After reflecting onrepparttar question I proceeded to give him an intellectually careful and, I thought, accurate definition. He allowed me to completerepparttar 136788 answer and then came back with his definition which was, “Management is just one darn thing after another.” After having a good laugh, I thought about his remark and concluded that he had basically identified what makes life so challenging for those in leadership positions. The flow of “things to do” never seems to stop.

How often have you gone home atrepparttar 136789 end of a day feeling frustrated because you had accomplished far less than you had planned? How many times has your “To Do” list grown by more items in one day than you marked off in a whole week? For most of us, this has happened far too often.

The larger problem is thatrepparttar 136790 “To Do” list we make for ourselves gets longer because somebody else adds to that list…more often than not, our boss. Frequently that list seems to be growing by an endless number of tasks that have more benefit to someone else, and very little benefit to getting our jobs done. Whilerepparttar 136791 list grows longer with these less critical items, our own list of critical, mission essential items seems to get more and more delinquent.

Most leaders are faced with conflicting priorities and almost invariably somebody else is makingrepparttar 136792 decision as to what our priorities must be. It could be a boss, but it can also be a customer, a vendor or even an organizational peer. In short, demands on our time come from many places, and all too often those demands appear to be less essential than our own priorities. The real tragedy, however, is that most of us also opt to completerepparttar 136793 priorities of others before we accomplish our own. This is not irrational, but it is oftenrepparttar 136794 wrong choice.

One ofrepparttar 136795 long-standing principles in economics is called Gresham’s law. It states that if two currencies are circulating in an economy—one a high-quality currency that everybody trusts and believes in andrepparttar 136796 other a poor-quality currency that everybody thinks has substantial risk—then “the bad currency will drive outrepparttar 136797 good currency.” This means that everybody will want to hoardrepparttar 136798 good currency and giverepparttar 136799 bad to other people whenever they can.

In leading,repparttar 136800 same principle applies. I call it “The Law of Administrivia.” That Law postulates that… Required or less useful activity drives out desirable and useful activity. In other words, people will dorepparttar 136801 tasks that they think are easy, trivial, and required first, in order to get them out ofrepparttar 136802 way. Then, withrepparttar 136803 time left over, they will do what is desirable or useful but not required. In short, people will do trivial administrative tasks (what I term “administrivia”) first just to avoid trouble withrepparttar 136804 boss. Then they concentrate on that which they know to be useful. Unfortunately this creates a dilemma sincerepparttar 136805 amount of administrivia grows oncerepparttar 136806 boss concludes you are able to handle what you have already been given to accomplish. That boss continues to pile onrepparttar 136807 work.

Eventually you do less and less of what you want or need to do and much more ofrepparttar 136808 administrative work. Worse still, since administrivia is usually easy work, while being a leader is hard work, guess which work you end up spending more time on? The easy jobs. After a while, all that gets done isrepparttar 136809 required,repparttar 136810 trivial, and maybe evenrepparttar 136811 useless.

Lead to Succeed: The Seven Essential Steps

Written by Gerald Czarnecki

In my book You’re In Charge…What Now? I use a mnemonic to describerepparttar seven essential steps to work leader success. The mnemonic is “L.E.A.D.E.R.S” and each of these letters represents an essential step. While I have simplifiedrepparttar 136757 elements of leadership into seven words,repparttar 136758 essence of my message is that being an effective, peak-performance work leader is simple, but not easy.

The responsibility of being an effective work leader is much more important than being an effective “manager”. Every effective manager leads first, and manages second. In my lexicon, there are two thingsrepparttar 136759 “person in charge of an organizational unit” does:repparttar 136760 first is to leadrepparttar 136761 people;repparttar 136762 second is to administerrepparttar 136763 processes that make uprepparttar 136764 work. I call this administrative activityrepparttar 136765 mechanics of managing…these arerepparttar 136766 activities of planning, organizing, controlling, report writing, etc., and of courserepparttar 136767 implementation ofrepparttar 136768 technical work ofrepparttar 136769 unit. These are critical activities and can never be ignored, but in my experience those managers who focusrepparttar 136770 preponderance of their time onrepparttar 136771 mechanics, ultimately do not succeed. They may achieve short term results, but they usually fail over time.

That which is done “to and for”repparttar 136772 people makes a work leader a long-term success, not what he or she does to administerrepparttar 136773 mechanics. Indeed, a manager with great leadership skills can sometimes be successful without being an effective administrator. I have worked for leaders like that, and they were great achievers.

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