By now, most people are familiar with the concept of life hacks, work hacks, and hacks in general. These terms reference a creative means of working around a challenging situation or vexing problem. While it’s easy to see why people are enamored with the idea of finding quick and easy remedies to issues, those in leadership roles cannot begin to rely on hacks over lasting solutions and system improvements.
Are You Prioritizing Simple Satisfaction?
There’s a certain amount of immediate gratification that comes with realizing that the tiles in your shower shine brighter if you clean them with dishwasher pellets or in finding out that cola will remove the stubborn stains in your sink. Searching for and sharing these hacks can also be amusing.
However, you must ask yourself whether a hack is truly sustainable or simply masking an underlying problem.
There can be a tendency, when people begin aspiring toward leadership, to try and short-circuit the developmental process. It does, after all, take a solid investment of time and energy to grow into an impactful leader. Great leaders must develop an understanding of how to:
- Assess, design, and implement lasting systems that serve those they lead
- Invest real time in developing positive relationships and authentically aligning processes
- Address the underlying needs of their teams regarding the performance of their work
These skills are fundamental to the credibility leaders carry in their roles. Those who focus on developing them will experience success that lasts far longer than those who move from one hack to another.
The Unperceived Downside of Hacks
There is a momentary thrill that comes with making a quick adjustment and turning the tables on a difficult situation. For example, coaches of sports teams seem to sometimes make snap decisions mid-game that play a role in changing outcomes. What people do not always perceive is the extensive preparation and modeling of scenarios in the days prior. If they did, it would reveal the work of those leaders in a different light.
Hacks are, by definition, band-aids or temporary workarounds. This is the problem with relying on them as leadership solutions. Layering hacks on top of each other indicates a danger that a fundamental issue is not being addressed, or even worse, a real problem is being avoided.
With all things quick and easy, there is a cost that later must be paid.
There’s a metaphorical hangover from a hack that begins to show up when those performing processes must find a workaround to an existing workaround. The team’s trust begins to erode when they realize the systems they rely on seem held together with bubble gum and bailing wire. At this point, their trust in a leader who relies on hacks also begins to fade.
When you routinely demonstrate a solid, value-driven commitment to addressing the root causes of issues impacting your team, you earn loyalty and trust. When your team members know they can count on you to not only do the right thing, but also the hard thing, it inspires their confidence.
A Solution Is Service
A leader is defined by the service they provide to those they lead. This trait must be developed internally over the process of growing as a leader. It is quite natural to avoid difficult or unpleasant situations. It is also normal to desire the praise and accolades that come from finding a temporary solution that might, on the surface, look quite innovative or creative.
You must build your internal capacity for embracing discomfort, because discomfort is necessary to bring about lasting system change. This is a learned leadership skill. You must also develop the ability to listen to the team members performing the work and sift through their frustrations. This is an essential leadership trait. It allows you to discover the information needed to craft a lasting solution.
Challenge yourself to develop your capacity to find real solutions as opposed to hacks. Demonstrate a willingness to grow and prepare for your role. As time passes, this self-discipline and willingness to serve will differentiate you from those who are simply managing.
Are you ready to lead teams, unleash creativity, and develop the tools to drive lasting change within your organization? Download our free eBook now!
Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.