Patterns & Insights

When “I Can Do That!” Is Not Best Option

by | Aug 7, 2017 | leadership

As a leader and now a business owner, I no doubt appreciate the energy that comes from can do attitudes and willingness to jump in and declare,  “I can do that!”   Now, I know there are a few other show tunes fans out there, who hear those words and immediately begin humming as I do the song from Broadway Musical “A Chorus Line!”  You know the one “I Can Do That!” from A ChorusLine — even if you are a closet Broadway Musical lover afraid to admit to your friend, co-worker, or partner, you probably remember that song.

So now that you have that tune stuck in your head and are cursing me or smiling, consider the flip side for a moment.   If you are a business owner or a leader of a small or tremendous organization, considering the alternatives to “I can do that,” can be a very positive move.  Seth Godin, wisely stated in his bite size blog, “Just because you can does not mean you should.” I’ve written before how sometimes very high potential leaders limit their own success and growth by using their knowledge and their ambition as power verses empowering others – taking on everything personally or within their team verses collaborating.  They are well intentioned in most cases and enthusiastically shout out, “I can do that! Give it to me.”  The lost opportunity, of course, is that the organization does not expand upon its capacity or resiliency to grasp new opportunity to the extent a different leadership style of empowerment and collaboration would have supported.

As business owners, we grapple everyday with producing great work, building our businesses, balancing the top line and the bottom line (financially, emotionally, and logistically).  We take great pride of ownership in what we are doing and as such, sometimes start to feel we are the only ones that “get it.” Other times we think, well I’ll just “do it (because I can)” and it will be done and I can save money or time or both.  But are you really? What if you spent that time creating relationships with folks whose primary business is the very “that” which you need to get done.  What if you spend your time focusing on your unique and special skill and/or offer to the market place instead?   I have found that the time spent creating relationships with folks with which I can share and receive tremendous value gives back dividends and more.  And more often than not, I get a much better “that” than what I might have created on my own in a burst of “I can do that!” enthusiasm.

So next time you say to yourself, “Oh, I can do that,” just stop and test yourself for a minute.  Yes,  you can but should you?  What if you gave it to a team member with support for their success – shared the stage so to speak? Does it support your focus on that which is unique and differentiated about your business and/or talents?  You can but could you benefit someone in your eco-system by getting their help and giving them the business in ways that could ultimately return so much more for you?

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