If you have ADHD, it is probable that some of your ADHD strengths, like being an out of the box thinker, great problem solver and great in a crisis, just to mention a few, can also help you be a great manager.
That’s the good news.
But are you the kind of leader you want to be? If not, it might be that some of your strengths related to your ADHD are also your Achilles heel when it comes to leading other people.
So, as you read below, think about which of the following mistakes you might be making right now and what you can do to become the kind of leader you want to be.
# 1 Spend Too Much Time in Reactive Mode
If you have not yet decided what your essential work is, including the tasks related to managing other people, and how much bandwidth you have, you may be spending too much time in reactive mode — doing whatever lands in front of you.
- saying, “Yes, I’ll do that” when your boss makes requests without thinking about whether you have the bandwidth?
- often putting out fires?
- answering each email as soon as it hits your inbox?
- stopping what you are doing when someone stops by your office or cube to chat?
- answering your phone when it rings even when it is not convenient?
- accepting meeting requests without thinking whether it is the best use of your time?
If the above sounds familiar, then it is likely you are spending too much time on urgent tasks, and don’t spend enough time doing the important work that would allow you to lead and manage well.
In order to address this challenge, the first step is to decide what is your essential work. And, once you make this decision, the second step is to protect your time so you can be proactive in doing what you decide is important.
#2 Don’t Do Enough Upfront Thinking
But, if you don’t have a weekly practice of thinking strategically, you may easily revert to the business of doing — solving the latest crisis, attending meetings, writing and responding to emails, etc.
And, when you become so busy doing, you may even lose sight of how you want to lead because you are not spending enough time doing the planning and reviewing necessary to remember and use your best practices.
I also know it might feel like there is not enough time to do this upfront thinking. The key is to trust that this is time well spent. But, at least in the beginning, you will need to take a leap of faith. Because you will likely only build this trust when you experience how useful it is to spend your time thinking strategically every week.
If you are ready to take this leap of faith, try:
- using this template to design a weekly review.
- getting clear on where you are spending your time now so you can figure out how to make time for more upfront thinking.
And when you do this you will be better able to steer the ship the way you want.
#3 Inconsistent Expectations
And, in order to get the results you want, your team needs to know what you expect of them, right? But your ADHD may contribute to your inconsistency in the following ways.
Because of your challenges with memory, you may just simply forget.
For example, you asked your team to fill out and send you a preparation form before 1-1 meetings. Then you stop referring to it. So, they stop filling it out. Then, seemingly, out of nowhere you ask, “Where is the form?” Now they are frustrated at the sudden request, and you are frustrated they did not follow through. Not a good scenario, for sure.
It’s ok you don’t have a great memory. It is what it is, right? They key to addressing this challenge is to figure out the right system and tools to help remind you of what you need to remember.
I have a better idea!
One of the wonderful qualities you may share with other Adults with ADHD is the ability to generate lots of ideas. That’s great! But, if you often change course midstream because you decide to follow a new idea, that can be demoralizing for your employees.
For example, you ask one of your employees to work on a project and tell him exactly what you want. Then, when he is well into the project, you tell him, “You know I’ve decided it would be better if we…” Again, you have one frustrated team member.
So, make sure you do enough upfront thinking so you make a good enough decision at the start. And then stay the course, unless you have a very compelling reason to change course and not because the new idea is a shiny penny. 🙂
I don’t have time to chase them…
One of the other reasons I often hear for inconsistent expectations is, “I told them what to do and they just did not do it. I can’t do my work and their work!”
No doubt, it is reasonable to expect your team members to follow through without having to “nag” them. But stuff slips, right? And, unless you hold them accountable when they do not follow through, they might either forget or decide is not important to you.
So, while maybe not your strong suit, it is important to create a process for making sure you are following up. A couple of options are:
- putting reminders of important deliverables in your task manager.
- asking them to complete a customized prep form before each 1-1 to report on the status of each deliverable
While I know following up is hard to do when you have so many balls in the air already, it is key to having consistent expectations. So, what can you start doing to be more consistent?
#4 Trying to Solve Everyone’s Problems
One habit that may be taking up a lot of your time —time you don’t have — is trying to solve problems that are not yours to solve.
No doubt, like many Adults with ADHD, you may be a great problem solver. And nothing can get your attention and help you focus like a crisis, right? You may also like being the go-to person – the one with the answers.
But, if you are stepping in when it would be best to have your team members solve their own problem, you may unwittingly be:
- creating an expectation that they should run to you whenever they get stuck.
- focusing on the wrong problem in your haste to fix what they think is wrong.
- causing yourself more work!
How do you know when you are solving problems you shouldn’t be? If your current habit is to go into “fix it mode” as soon as one of your employees presents you with a problem, then it is likely you are stepping in at times when it would be better not to.
The alternative is to adopt a more coach-like habit of saying less and asking more questions to help your team members learn how to solve their own problems. If you are interested in learning how to do this, check out, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever.
Not only will you be freeing up your time, but you will also be helping your team members grow. Nice, right?
#5 Not Delegating Enough
I know, similar to other leaders I work with, you may not have enough time to do what is essential in your role because you do not delegate enough for one of the 3 reasons below:
It will be easier if I just do it on my own.
Sure, in the short run it may be easier to do some tasks on your own. After all, you don’t have to bother communicating what you want, which, as is true for many adults with ADHD, may be hard for you. And you get to do it exactly the way you want. Sounds good.
But, you know in the long run, if you are not delegating enough, it will make your job harder, as you will not have the time you need to do the higher level work your job requires, like thinking strategically. The key is to figure out how to clearly communicate both the objective and desired outcome so you can get the results you want.
They won’t do it the way I want.
This may be true. But you can maximize the chances of getting the outcome you want by communicating the objective and desired result.
Then you will need to let them carry out the task in the way that works best for them. Not easy sometimes, I know. It might take some practice letting go of needing the task to be carried out exactly the way you might do it.
I can’t ask them to do this now. It’s too late!
Again, this may true. You don’t want to dump work on your team members at the last minute.
And, by this point, if you guessed that the workaround for this challenge is doing the Weekly Review and Planning, you are right. Because when you do more upfront thinking, you will have the time and energy you need to think enough in advance about what and how you can delegate.
What are other reasons you may not be delegating as much as you could, and what can you do to change this?
Question for You
What is one area you will work on improving so you can continue learning and growing as a leader?