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Work Smarter, Not Harder: Busy is the New Stupid…Learn to Delegate!

Tabetha Sheaver's book "Busy is the New Stupid" emphasizes the crucial need for leaders to delegate tasks and responsibilities.

“If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” Young workers remember this phrase, uttered by their bosses at fast food restaurants and proclaiming the need to stay busy. After all, productivity is measured in tasks, in hours, in billable time, yes? 

Get ready to unlearn everything you learned. Busy does not lead to success. Busy work leads to stagnation and failure. While it’s quite true that a company must stay profitable and billable, it’s even more crucial to discern what defines profitability. Is the individual who can accomplish a task quickly and efficiently less valuable than those who take hours to complete the same task? The answer is no. Yet, the current status quo that many small business owners follow is that productivity and busy = value. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

Table of Contents:

How Busy is a Sign of a Failing Team

A Bored Team: An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Playground

A Marytrdom Complex: Why a Busy Leader is the Weakest Link

Billable Hours Vs. Productive Hours Vs. Busy Work

The Challenge: Engage in Authentic Leadership Development

How to Lead Better

Key Takeaways:

When small business owners adopt a martyrdom complex, they sacrifice the growth and development of their team. Busy is stupid; billable hours are not the only defining numbers to success. Busy leads to stagnation. Grow the team, develop their talents, and enjoy a wealth of business prosperity. 

How Busy is a Sign of a Failing Team

The business owner and manager who insists on every team member staying busy is the leader who isn’t leading. If team members receive constant reprimands to stay busy, busy, busy, they interpret this to mean that they need to look busy. 

The overemphasis on billable time also can initiate something far more sinister in the corporate world: timesheet dishonesty. Nearly half (43 percent) of employees who are paid hourly have admitted to fudging their hours. 

Busy does not grow excellence; it simply manifests stagnation. Leaders who effectively lead change the dialogue and flip the narrative. They encourage growth, not busy work. Leaders are eying the next opportunity for their employees, building upon the individual’s strengths and unique capabilities. 

The salesperson who always excels in closing the deal may struggle in another capacity. Perhaps they are weak in developing their team. Leaders identify the weak point as a potential future strong point.

They don’t look to keep an individual busy when leads are slower; instead, they encourage them to work on their pain points, developing their weaknesses into capabilities that make them even more effective and impactful. 

A Bored Team: An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Playground

Busy employees might be bored employees. Team members who always feel they need to stay busy or look busy might be looking elsewhere. Boredom is always dangerous ground in a corporate and professional environment. 

No one wants to dread the workday. No one wants to dread their boss. No capable team member wants to engage in busy work simply because the eight-hour day mandates it. They want to learn, they want to grow. They want to engage. ENGAGE THEM OR LOSE THEM!

A Martyrdom Complex: Why A Busy Leader Is the Weakest Link

One of the most common personalities leading a failing or stagnating business is the manager who suffers from a martyrdom complex. This is the owner or manager who must have a hand in everything;

they need to touch it all, do it all, and take it all upon themselves. After all, the company can only succeed with their unique touch.

No successful companies grow from this type of leadership. Busy is the new stupid because feigning martyrdom is simply a means to wield control. This type of leadership coexists with a micromanaged culture and environment. 

Leaders need to lead and learn, and they should not focus on staying busy for the sake of staying busy. True leaders delegate tasks and project ownership to trusted members of their team. A successful leader does not take on more than they can handle; instead, they divide the tasks to conquer their obstacles.

Billable Hours Vs. Productive Hours Vs. Busy Work

Agencies and service-based industries who bill by the hour define success and profitability by billability. What percentage of a team member’s time was billable? How much was wasted time? This simple black and white equation misses many other factors required to fully balance it. 

How efficient is the team member? What bottlenecks exist in the current workflow that strangle productivity? How much time does the company allocate for continuing education opportunities? Time is only wasted if no value is assigned to it; employee training and development lead to greater productivity, confidence, and career growth. 

Learning opportunities like conferences, classes, and symposiums offer far more value to the company than busy work. Rethink value to balance the equation of productivity accurately.

The Challenge: Engage In Authentic Leadership Development

Change must happen for managers and small business owners who have embraced a martyrdom complex, vowing that only they can do it all for true success. Ramsey Solutions released a Small

Business Labor Crisis Report (2023) that touched upon owner struggles; the report noted that more than half of small business owners (55 percent) cited retention as a problem, and 42 percent reported burnout over the past year.

While there is no simple solution for easing small business concerns and struggles, adopting and implementing strategies that focus on team member engagement and task delegation helps remove the stress and responsibilities from owners. Those who hire a team they trust must trust their team. 

Leadership development programs and leadership coaches (like Tabetha) know how to guide small business owners to create impactful strategies for team development and structural organization to fuel success and profitability.

Tabetha Sheaver coaches leaders how to provide more dynamic leadership to their team.  Her book provides more insight about "the art of delegating."

Busy is the New Stupid: Learn to Lead Better

Busy is the new stupid. Work with Tabetha to understand how the mindset of “stay busy” threatens growth and sabotages success. Read more about Tabetha’s expertise and insight; buy “Busy is the New Stupid: The Art of Letting Go and Delegating” today!


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