A long-time client and colleague of JKL Associates and I have an ongoing dialogue about the value of work any given activity or event has and how it is contributing to the good of the organization. Some of the things a leader gets involved with are very productive and highly contributing. Others are not as critical for the leadership to be doing and should be delegated to other resources in the organization so the alignment of dollars invested are more appropriate to the return on those dollars.
We capture the banter in the phrase of working at the $40 desk or at the $400 desk.
The reference is that when the owner, leader, executive etc. is doing work that should otherwise be executed at a different desk rather than the leader, the leader has moved seats. They are working at the $40 desk and thus giving up value the $400 desk would or should be contributing to the outcomes of the business.
The marketplace has presented a talent challenge in most all businesses in one form or fashion. Maybe it is the lack of trades people. Possibly the lack of either executives or entry level personnel. The talent dilemma has definitely placed lots of added pressures on leadership. While this is being dealt with, leaders have jumped seats. Many are back working in the business rather than on the business. For some leaders they never left working in the business and are now even deeper in the trench spending more and more time at the $40 desk when they should be executing at the $400 desk.
It is easy to say these things but when you are the leader and need to take care of business, you jump in at any desk to get things done. This is so true that even the people in your organization know that you will jump in and thus may be allowing it to take place at the leader’s expense. If leadership does not have in place well-articulated expectations and methods to review what is expected, then deliverables can and do begin to slide. As they slide the leaders double down on working more and more at the $40 desk while still investing dollars into talent which should be working that part of the business allowing the leader to focus and prioritize the efforts of the $400 desk.
A contributing factor to the challenges present is the absence of a culture which engages talent to contribute at their very best. When the culture is stimulating and driven by purpose and core values which are aligned with the business and the talent then harmony of performance is a natural outcome rather than a forced effort.
This week as you step back and take a really hard look at your business, how are you either aligned with the $400 desk or the $40 desk? Ask yourself to be ruthlessly honest with your view. Does your organization have an energy driven by a culture of contribution or one of simply getting stuff done? Are you part of the solution or contributing to the problem? How might a solid understanding and appreciation by the team of the Core Purpose of the business contribute to bringing people together rather than having islands of work?
In times when talent is a key factor in business success, growth and preservation, leadership has a even greater need to be strategic in its decision making and problem solving. If you are pulled into the $40 desk and not investing your time at the $400 desk, then the outcome will always be falling short of desired expectations.
Looking to free yourself from the $40 desk? Give JKL Associates a call and speak with a Promise Guide about how you might move up to the $400 desk. Your Promise Guide can be reached at MI (313) 527-7945 or FL (407) 984-7246
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