Project Management

The Most Important Thing a Leader Can Do? Nothing

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

There’s a phrase that was popularized in the 1970s that goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The meaning is fairly clear: If something is working well, then leave it alone so it can continue to work well. Interfering with it will rarely result in a positive outcome.

But as leaders, that’s what we seem to have the urge to do all the time. We spend huge amounts of time and energy trying to build a team that is working effectively together—and then as soon as we have created that environment, we start messing with it. One of the most important things we have to learn to become effective leaders is when the time has come to do nothing.

Leadership is not about doing stuff
While things have gotten better over the last few years, there is still a tendency to equate success with hard work. I’m not suggesting that there are short cuts to success—we have all had to work hard to get where we are. What I mean is that we think someone must be doing a good job if they are working 10 hours a day or more, whereas someone who is working six hours a day or less can’t possibly be as successful.

But often that’s simply not true. As a leader, I don’t expect to consistently work an excessive number of hours every day—and I don’t expect my team to do it, either. To me that’s just being inefficient, …


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"I know the meaning of life - it doesn't help me a bit."

- Howard Devoto