You sign up for things and get them done

You are about to violate a key leadership rule: “You sign up for things and get them done. Every single time.”

Leaders set the bar for what is and is not acceptable on their teams. They define this bar both overtly with the words they say, and more subtly with their actions. There are two scenarios that may play out when you’ve reached Meeting Blur: either you don’t change anything and do all of your work poorly, or you drop some of that work, which equates to a missed commitment. While the optics on both scenarios are bad, what is worse is that by choosing either course you signal to your team that these obvious bad outcomes are acceptable.

Seem harsh? Yeah, I’m a bit fired up because I think leaders vastly underestimate the impact of actions we rationalize as inconsequential. Let’s play it out once more. Thinking I am being responsible and helpful, I sign up for things. I do this repeatedly and sign up for too many things. Over time, I realize I’m overloaded, so I back out on some commitments. Where’s the flaw? Because I could not initially correctly assess how much work I could do, I’m signaling to my team that it’s okay to back out of commitments.

Michael Lopp, The Art of Leadership: Small Things, Done Well

Following through on personal commitments, 100%, all the time, is an aspect of leadership I try to hammer into any manager on my team. It’s also the one I’m most paranoid about falling short on myself.