A good coach doesn’t spend a time-out reminding players of everything they need to perform well. Instead, good coaches focus on the one or two points that their players need to focus on in order to achieve success. Equipped with the right coaching, a player can return to the field and be intentional about the pivots that will help win the game at hand. Coaches know that all the other knowledge and skills their players accumulated are still there—it’s knowing when to call forth the right skill and the right time that separates bad coaches from good.
Unfortunately, few people’s jobs allow them the space to focus on a narrow set of priorities or to be intentional about which areas of their work to really focus on. There is always more to do than can be done – more stakeholders to engage with, more decks to make, more questions you must answer via email. The larger and more matrixed an organization is, the more this is true.
Imagining what your organization would be like if you disappeared can help you understand the impact of your presence. In your absence, your team would still have much work to get done. They would be swamped with requests from cross-functional peers, be challenged to manage bandwidth, lack a champion to voice their needs, and struggle to know how to fulfill their mandates. It’s in that space that your presence provides value to your team.
Leaders that provide clarity and focus equip their teams to succeed. Of all the things to manage in a project, there’s a small number of key points that need real attention. It may be a particular result that, if delivered, catapults the team to success. It may be one skill development. Whatever it is, it’s not 10 things; it’s a small set of priorities that your team must deliver on. It’s your job to make sure that they’re clear on what those priorities are.