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How much time should you spend in the weeds?

Chase Damiano
13 min read
How much time should you spend in the weeds?

What is the right balance is between acting as an individual contributor and acting as a strategic leader? Here’s a refresher on the two with example activities.

I get this question frequently and here’s what I noticed.

  • Leaders with a lot of individual contributor time work more quickly and get more done, but tend to be more stressed and anxious. Their day is busy filled with tasks. They work odd hours.
  • Leaders with a lot of strategic leadership time tend to have most of their days free and focused on work that matters, but tend to become too disconnected from the day-to-day or morale of the team. Their day is busy with their head in the clouds. They might even struggle with getting anything done.

Shifting from high amounts of individual contributor time to strategic leadership requires you to shift your mindset around the value you add to the team.

Leaders with too much strategic contribution need to get their hands dirty and start executing. And, vice versa, those with too much individual contributorship need to focus more on strategic direction.

I’ve seen leaders swing week-over-week between 90% individual contributorship (IC) / 10% strategic leadership (SL) to 30% IC / 70% SL. I’ve also seen leaders be relatively consistent week-over-week with a 50/50 split to 40% IC / 60% SL.

Each week may be a bit different and every leader will strike a balance that’s right for their stage of the business.


However, there are some pre-cursors that may influence whether more time is spent in one bucket or another.

Individual contributorship may be higher when…

  • a key team member leaves the company.
  • experiencing a high workload for a low capacity or work through put to get things done on the team.
  • there’s low performance of a team (a.k.a. team not producing high quality results).
  • you have leaky boundaries with your team (for example, when direct reports are delegating to the leader and not the other way around).

Strategic contribution may be higher when…

  • team performance and quality of work is high.
  • business is growing and you’re making traction.
  • workload matches the team capacity.
  • there’s clear decision-making processes (for example, the team leader is not involved with most day-to-day decisions).
  • you set transparent goals and measures of success (for example, everyone knows what they’re working toward).

If you suspect that it may be time to move from one type of contributorship to another, here’s some questions to ask yourself:

1. “What is my current ratio between individual contribution and strategic leadership?”

  • Both percentages must add up to 100%.

2. “What is the ratio I’d like to be working in?”

  • If you want to be highly attentive and involved inside the business maybe that means more individual contributions for you.
  • If you prefer to think more about vision and growth, then more strategic contribution may be what you need.

3. “What are the gaps preventing me from moving toward my desired ratio?”

  • Gaps could be…
    • lack of clarity around goals.
    • no clear process in place.
    • operations aren’t scaleable.
    • team lacks a sense of accountability.
    • feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to do.

The growth of your business is directly proportional to a transformation of your mindset as a founder and a team leader.

I know what a struggle it can be to find the balance between how much time should be spent in the weeds and how much time should be focused on strategic direction. If that’s where you are right now, let me give you a short-cut.

Send me an email with your answers to the three questions above and I’ll gift you at least one hyper-valuable tool specific to your situation that can lift that gap. No strings attached.

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    P.S. Wondering if you’re spending too much time in the weeds?

    I’d love to help you figure out the right balance for you. Don’t forget to answer the three questions above and send me your responses. I’ll gift you at least one hyper-valuable tool that will benefit you the most to bridge the gap between being an individual contributor and a strategic leader.

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