Only Do What Only You Can Do


Your focus needs more focus – Mr. Han

Part of what makes us feel valuable, important and useful is getting things done. We fill the quiet spaces with activity and busyness, and it makes us feel like we’re getting things accomplished. And maybe we are, and maybe sometimes we’re just running the same gerbil wheel to give ourselves the sense that we’re making progress. Yet our own growth often comes from attempting what is difficult, and letting go of what has become merely habitual or routine, which others can do better.

I had a conversation with Lisa Vos of Melbourne Business School recently who teaches managers to “only do what only you can do.” That is to say, managers and leaders should focus on those particular tasks and activities which they are truly the best at in their organization, and let others do those tasks and projects which best suit their skills.

As you might imagine, in practice this is terribly difficult to do because managers want to feel important and valuable by getting things done, but have lost sight that it’s the people around them that are likely more capable at handling the specific tasks.

As a leader, by honing your skills and talents on what you are indeed most expert at in the organization, you are not only providing unique and signature value, but also giving control and autonomy to those around you to perform the tasks that they are better suited to. Refraining from jumping in to save the day will create internal tension and anxiety. Vos’ advice is to acknowledge that internal tension and remind yourself that there are people in the organization who are more skilled than you, and that’s a good thing. By curtailing your urge to leap in, you are also strengthening another by letting them lead on a task or project they are better suited to.

Focus, and let go.