3 Common Mistakes Leaders Make Investing Their Energy

June 25, 2018

The three biggest mistakes managers make investing their energy and managing their time.

Leaders will agonize over where to invest their budget. Or where to allocate additional headcount. Or, over the structure of their team.

But, according to LinkedIn Learning Instructor Mike Figliuolo, too many leaders spend too little time agonizing how they invest their most important resource of all: their time and energy (or, as he calls it in his LinkedIn Learning course Leading Effectively, their “leadership capital”).

And that leads to less effective teams.

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Mike Figliuolo explains the most common mistakes leaders make investing their time and energy.

The 3 most common mistakes leaders make investing their energy

“I've seen leaders make three common mistakes investing their leadership capital,” Figliuolo said in his course, Leading Effectively. “Those mistakes hurt both their efficiency and their effectiveness.”

Those three mistakes are:

    1. Taking the peanut butter approach

The peanut butter approach is when a leader spreads their time evenly among all their employees, like spreading peanut butter evenly on a piece of bread, Figliuolo said. “Leaders do this because it feels fair to everyone,” he said.

So, what’s wrong with this approach? Isn’t spreading your time evenly what you should do?

No. Some people want less attention – any more feels like micromanagement. Conversely, others need more.

Instead, the best leaders determine how much time each of one of their employee’s needs to thrive, and then invest their time accordingly.

    2. Giving time to people in the order they ask for it.

Imagine if you gave out money in the order people asked for it – nobody would do that. And yet, many managers will give out their time in the order people ask for it.

“What's wrong with this approach is it fails to prioritize the leader's time,” Figliuolo said. “It also encourages team members to constantly take up the leader's time, rather than solving issues for themselves.”

The solution – instead of being reactive and waiting for people to ask for time, the best leaders are proactive and go where their time is needed most.

    3. Following the path of least resistance.

This is a particularly difficult one to avoid, because humans are wired to seek out the path of least resistance. But, if you as a leader are spending most of your time with people you like or people who are easy to manage, and avoiding people who are difficult to manage, you are making a mistake.

“The issues with this approach include not solving issues that need to be resolved and instead dedicating time and energy to low-return efforts,” Figliuolo said. “Spending excessive time with high performers doesn't contribute a great deal to delivering outstanding results.”

The takeaway: Your time is your most important resource

Here’s the real point – you need to think about how you invest your energy the same way yout think about how you invest your budget. Where should you double-down? And which people or teams can you trust to get the job done, without as much of your time?

The more you value your own time, the more strategic you'll be with how you spend it. And that'll lead to better results for your entire team.

Want to learn more? Watch Figliuolo’s full course, Leading Effectively.

Other lessons within that LinkedIn Learning course include: