How to Lead with Less (and Do it Well)


In this age of cutbacks and budget constraints, everyone is looking to do more with less. Do more. Produce more. Achieve more.


The straightforward reality is this. There is no more with less. There is only less with less. It's honestly that simple.


This is an important bit of "news" for those expecting greater productivity and better outcomes, while simultaneously paring away resources, both human and financial. Leaders, it's time to get real. If you strip your organization down to its barest bones, you may find yourself with little more than a lifeless skeleton.


People and other resources can only stretch so far. Beyond that, you may end up with a less effective organization, a disengaged, demotivated, anxious and edgy team... and a slide from greatness to goodness to mediocrity.


So how do great leaders and smart organizations thrive in lean times? They focus on the following (and so should you).



The big picture.
The best leaders recognize that short-term "savings" can lead to substantial costs in the long term. Yes, they may save the cost of a few salaries when they cut people from the team. But they understand that it costs a great deal more, in the long run, to run an organization with too little talent and too few hands on deck. That said, they are deliberate about when, where and whether cuts are made.

The priorities.
Successful leaders carefully identify where to dedicate their organization's resources. When times are lean, it's that much more important to scrutinize where and how money is spent and where talent is deployed. A focus on the highest impact initiatives ensures that limited resources are used wisely and well.

The impact.
Good leaders do not ignore the very real emotional and cultural impact of cuts. They recognize that when people are stretched to the limits, forced to continually go above and beyond, to consistently miss out on personal time with friends and family, they will suffer. And so will the organization. Employees become less effective and creative, more chronically fatigued and sometimes physically and/or emotionally unwell. This is bad news for the individual, the team, and the entire organization.

The need for acknowledgment.
Great leaders understand the need to say thanks. They realize that their people will continue to go the extra mile if they are appropriately recognized and appreciated for their efforts. Savvy leaders remember to say thanks in any number of creative ways. Publicly and privately, in words and in opportunities for development and advancement. They don't hold back. And neither should you.

Lean times call for a new approach to leadership. Remember, great leaders balance the necessity for targeted cutbacks with careful prioritizing and genuine appreciation for the dedication and perseverance of the entire organization.

All the best,  


Liz Bywater, PhD 
President, Bywater Consulting Group 
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Copyright 2013. Liz Bywater, PhD. Bywater Consulting Group, LLC. All rights reserved.