Fill Your Plate

Some people may wonder why buffet style restaurants are so popular. The food is certainly not “five-star” and you usually don’t get much in the way of service. Yet, these places are often times so packed with customers that you have a long waiting line just to get in. What is it?

While the real reason could be many things, ultimately I believe that it comes down to choice. My kids just love to make their own choices. Of course they each love different kinds of food and the buffets give them the ability to choose the meats, breads, vegetables and of course, the desserts that they like the best…and certainly more than one of each of those things! They aren’t limited to one item as they are at traditional restaurants. They get to decide how to fill their plates.

Wouldn’t it be great to make those types of decisions in our leadership lives as well? Wouldn’t it make for a thrilling week to decide exactly what things we fill our plates with?

For many leaders, their plates are filled to the brim by others. Their boss, their team members, their peers, and their customers all add items to their plates, and for so many of them their plates become so full that there is no more room for the things that the leaders would like to add. As a result, things like coaching, teaching, or celebrating never happens…not to mention things like spending time with family and friends, exercising, reading, watching a movie or just relaxing. The plates are just too full to allow for much of a satisfying work life or even personal life.

Wouldn’t it be great to choose what gets put on our plate? How much more productive and stress-free would our lives be? We could choose from all of the things on the “smorgasbord of life” and pick the things that matter most to us.

The good news is that we can choose. We have the ability to decide what goes on our plate and what lingers there. Winning Leaders do this. They do this by preventing and closing Performance Gaps. A Gap-Free lifestyle minimizes and eliminates items from our plates.

The more we close Knowledge Gaps with our teams, the less they will need us to answer the simple questions that they have the ability to answer themselves. If we focus on Training and Teaching and hiring or positioning the right Talent, they will have more competence, confidence, and commitment and therefore be more self-sufficient.

The more we close Importance Gaps with our teams by setting clear Expectations, using clear and intentional Communication, and creating Priorities around the things that truly matter, the higher the results we will produce and therefore the less new initiatives or changes we will need to make in order to deliver winning results.

By closing Action Gaps we create Accountability, Commitment and a Culture of action on our teams. By closing these Gaps we build exciting, positive momentum that creates a virtuous cycle of winning.

We have this ability to fill our own plates and we must to do this first, before others begin to fill it. We need to begin each of our days and weeks by reflecting on the previous ones and then take action based on our discoveries.

  1. What was accomplished?  How did we accomplish it? What tactics or leadership methods were used? What Gapology Root Solutions were applied?

  2. What was not accomplished? What Gaps were created? Why did we not meet expectations? What steps were not in place? What was our focus? What Root Solutions were not applied?

By starting with questions like these, we can make intentional, conscious decisions about what to put on our plates. These items will prevent future Gaps and therefore future items to be put on our plates. We create these items, either intentionally through a proactive choice, or unintentionally through a lack of focus on the things that prevent the reactive leadership that comes from dealing with Gaps once they occur.

Ultimately, it comes down to our own decision to start filling our plates with the big things. The big leadership items, like our Root Solutions, that prevent the Gaps from opening. These big things prevent other small tasks from happening and keep our plates clean from having to handle them. This choice, the one where we decide to tackle the big things is ours to make. We can choose to fill our plate or let it get filled by everyone else. What choice will you make?!

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