Be honest, have these thoughts ever crossed your mind?

I didn’t go to school all those years to do this stuff.

I’m an expert at what I do…not this!

I want to practice what I am trained to do!

And my favorite…This leadership stuff is taking up too much time and taking me away from my real job!

I hate to break it to you, but the leadership stuff is part of your job. And if you are not handling that piece well, it can be painful and costly.

So many leaders, across industries and roles, share these thoughts with me daily. Yes, I know, the responsibilities of being a leader take you away from the job you want and love to do. And for many, you were never taught how to be a leader.

You excel in your technical expertise, and then you wake up one morning to find yourself in a leadership role. Managing projects. Managing people. That in itself is a full-time job. You may be resentful, nervous and overwhelmed.

This is an expensive, and potentially painful issue to ignore.

Studies have enumerated the cost of ineffective leadership. Ten to 30% of leaders’ lost time is spent mishandling situations and people. Do the math – what is that costing you, your clients, and your firm or company? I call this The Reluctant Leader Tax – a large expense of lost time, resources, and energy spent re-doing work, mishandling difficult situations, and mismanaging people. Stop shying away from your leadership role. Step up, stop avoiding, and reduce paying that high tax.

What can you do to reduce the Reluctant Leader Tax?

  1. Acknowledge What You’re Avoiding. What do you not want to deal with? Give effective feedback to an underperforming employee. Have a hard conversation about what is not working. Avoidance is costly and rarely does it help you accomplish your goals.
  2. Identify Your Priorities. Every week and every day identify the top 3 tasks you need to accomplish. These need to be aligned with your annual and quarterly priorities.
  3. Prioritize Your Time. Look at your calendar – what is taking up your time? What meetings can be accomplished in 30 minutes instead of 60? What can be accomplished in an email or short phone call? What meetings are unnecessary for you to attend? This is hard work and yet, prioritizing your time will give you more time to lead. Lead by practicing what you preach (#2 and 5 in this list!) CHALLENGE: Find 5 more hours in your week by eliminating the unnecessary (see how in #5 below).
  4. Delegate. Every time you start a new task, ask yourself if you’re the right person to complete it. Is this an opportunity for someone else to learn or gain visibility?
  5. Say No! I know, I know, it’s hard to do. And yet, when you say no, you are saying yes to your priorities. This is the key tactic to accomplish #1 – 4.

When you lead deliberately, you reduce The Reluctant Leader Tax, and you gain back upwards of 30% of your time. You demonstrate to those around you how to lead with authority and influence. Avoiding leadership is not effective!

What tactic will you adopt today to stop paying The Reluctant Leader Tax?