Why the Best Leaders Start Small

April 27, 2023

adjusting gears

Overview: Breaking down complex projects into smaller, easily achievable pieces allows leaders to conserve motivation, momentum, and focus. Leadership coaching seeks to trigger sweeping changes by effecting small tweaks in leaders’ inner cores. Executive coaching can help leaders devise strategies to become more effective by starting small.

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” – Henry Ford. 

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. People have always been aware that the way to solve large, complex problems is to break them down into smaller, less daunting pieces. Leadership coaching appreciates this gradual approach to problem-solving. Executive coaching professionals know how to manipulate the interdependence of smaller factors to achieve change on a higher level of leadership success.

When leaders set out to become better versions of themselves, they often don’t know where to begin. They’re already doing their best… What else could they do to effect positive change?

360-degree surveys allow leadership coaches to pinpoint leadership gaps from their unique, expertise-tinted perspectives.

Leadership coaching experts know the inner core of leadership skills and talents drives the outer core and vice-versa. Coaches drive leaders in, helping them effect change on a seemingly insignificant detail of their inner cores. This tiny tweak causes rippling realizations and changes in leadership behaviors that impact entire organizations and droves of employees.

How can leaders adapt these principles of executive coaching to their problem-solving?

People tend to exaggerate problems, and leaders aren’t immune to common fallacies. Here’s what they can do to address problems more efficiently.

Starting Small

Starting small may seem like a simple concept, yet many people struggle with creating small tasks that solve larger problems.

The first step to starting small is to define whether you’re dealing with a task or a project. Projects may take several weeks or months to accomplish. Tasks are smaller in scope and may require single sittings to finish.

For the sake of productivity, leaders are better off redefining their longer tasks as projects.

Defining Milestones

Milestones break up projects into smaller tasks. How one defines milestones depends on the size of the project. If someone is dealing with a project that takes several months to complete, it makes sense to set monthly milestones.

For a project that takes a week, defining daily milestones is more practical. One can even set milestones for micro-projects that shouldn’t take longer than a few hours to complete.

How to Set Milestones

For milestones to make sense, leaders must clearly define what their completion entails.

One may set milestones by:

  • Phase. Projects comprise different phases (i.e., the planning phase, execution phase, testing phase, etc.)
  • Category. Tasks and projects may comprise distinct categories like the graphic design and AI parts of a computer game.
  • Parts. Projects may consist of self-explanatory parts that make excellent natural milestones.

Defining Concrete Steps 

Leaders and employees alike need clear, achievable goals. Defining and writing down the practical steps that lead to completing a project creates a roadmap for execution that doesn’t allow leaders and employees to lose focus and motivation.

Path leading up a mountain.
A roadmap provides clear instructions and achievable plans.

Not being able to define practical steps means there may be gaps in leaders’ understanding of the project. They may also lack the skills it requires.

Complex projects may not lend themselves well to this exercise. Even if they can’t define every step to complete such projects, leaders should focus on setting at least two or three steps.

Breaking Up Longer Stretches of Work

Long stretches of work can be exhausting. To avoid losing motivation, leaders can set artificial time limits to the tasks they perform.

They may choose to do something for an hour, then take a break. Time-boxing is a useful skill for those who work in front of a computer. Getting up now and then and taking a walk can be beneficial for these people.

Starting small is a nifty trick leaders can use to conserve momentum and motivation. Executive coaching professionals use a similar approach to improve the leadership competencies and abilities of their clients.

Contact us to learn more about how you can join the IL Movement as a coach or how you can benefit from partnering with us to bring IL Solutions to you and your organization.

back to “news”