What does cutting the grass and painting have in common? Besides being household chores, both are comprised of two segments: the middle and the edges.

I don’t mind cutting the grass – if it means those long, continuous stretches in the center of the lawn – but I hate all the edging and trimming along the sides. I don’t mind painting the walls –as long as it is the center of the wall itself – but I lose patience when trying to paint around windows and doors. Yet, the quality of the work overall is determined precisely by how well those details are done.

When judging the amount of time to do painting or mowing, we often give estimates to do the heart of the project and grossly underestimate the time it will take to do the edging well. This manifest itself in our organizations when we give credence to those who paint the main part of the walls and overlook those who perform the tedious trim work, or we volunteer to take on the tasks that can be performed with the riding mower but leave the weed-whacking to others.

When you are making assignments, projecting timelines or appropriating recognition, keep your lawn in mind. If you only address what occurs in the center section, your competitors will mow you over with their quality.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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