In most business management classes, the story of Henry Ford and his discovery of the “assembly line” is usually discussed. After all, it was a HUGE milestone in “Operations Management.” Before the assembly line, it took 12 hours to produce a very simple car. Using the assembly line, it took less than two hours!
The assembly line “boosted the capacity” of the manufacturing plant.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that in our own lives, with our own leadership?
You know who needs to do this the most? Smart people and good leaders. A long time ago, there was a watershed Harvard Business Review article: Teaching Smart People to Learn. It’s hard to do, because the smart people are already going to get an “A” on the assignment, so why should they expend the extra energy?? And good leaders… same story. They will already get the job done or get a bonus, etc.
But those who keep learning, keep growing and keep applying their new knowledge—those people will pass us every time!
Mark Miller’s book, Smart Leadership, mentions “Grow Capacity” to be the second smart choice you should make as a leader. The first choice he gave us was to “confront reality,” which you’ll need to do if you want to grow capacity.
“Dr. Rob, seriously, what does that even mean?”
To explain it, let’s all agree that the future is a mystery. There are countless options and opportunities out there for you and for the people you lead. But we “see” or “consider” a limited number of them. When you grow capacity, you are giving yourself (and others) the chance to see more and do more, to surpass your current limits, and to have better options in the future.
Let’s suppose you read the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and learn to “start with the end in mind.” You reorient your life and your work to be more focused on the results you want. You are going to learn to accomplish more, with less effort, as you stop wasting time and energy on things that don’t help you accomplish your goal. You’ve expanded your capacity to get things done, get the right things done, and help others on your team do the same.
Once I learned this, I stopped trying to impress people with how hard I was working and how busy I was. I started asking questions along the lines of:
Half the time, I discovered that my bosses didn’t have the answers yet to move up the food chain and ensure we both had the “Why?” question answered before we thought about the “How?” question.”
Smart Leadership enumerates a few ways things to do when you make the SMART choice to grow your capacity:
What are your struggles when it comes to capacity? Let’s talk: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll help where I can. Remember, START WITH YOU.
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