October 2, 2018

The 5 resources at a leader’s disposal

What is your role as a leader?

It’s such a complicated, multilayered question that it’s almost silly to ask.  And yet, when I began taking on leadership positions, I quickly developed a straightforward, simple answer to that question.

I saw — and still see — my job as being a good steward of five resources at my disposal.  The only resources at my disposal:

  1. People’s time
  2. Money
  3. Space
  4. Equipment
  5. Good will

These resources are not all created equal.  I would argue that two far outweigh the others — people’s time and good will.  And there is only one that can be created de novo and renewed endlessly, and that’s good will.

Although all 5 resources can be exhausted, good will especially must be handled with care.

[bctt tweet=”Once it’s gone, good will is almost impossible to get back, so you must foster it wherever possible, nurture it whenever you can and guard it well.” username=”MettaSolutions”]

A guidepost for decision-making

I have used this resource stewardship idea as a lens through which any request should be viewed, and I would consider requests in light of the whole set of resources, not just the one being requested.  You want funding for a new project?  That money could also go to necessary space or equipment purchases that may be more urgently needed or already promised.

I actually talked about this idea on the day I started took over as chair of an academic medical department.  I told the department how I would make decisions, and I promised to be upfront with them about my reasoning when I had to say no.

It wasn’t always easy, but it was a fair, open and honest way to make decisions that I think paid off.  Among other benefits, it can be a wonderful way to build good will.

This kind of transparency and clarity around resources is helpful for guiding your decisions as a leader, and for gaining buy-in for your decisions.  Your staff may not always like your decisions, but they will know why you’ve made them.

How do you see your role as a leader?

Are you a steward of resources, and does your list look different from mine?  Please let us know in the comments!