The smartest way for you to grow your business in this economy, is for you as the leader to actually work less. Sounds crazy, right? Well, let’s first all agree this is a crazy economy and crazy times call for crazy measures.

Let me show you what I mean. I have some hefty goals for my business, some big things I want to accomplish in the next two years. Just putting those down on paper caused me a little fear and anxiety. Just how I was possibly going to get it all done?  And, for the first three months of this year, I immersed myself full throttle into accomplishing these goals.

In my opinion, I was doing everything right. I had a clearly articulated vision, measurable goals and a solid plan of action on how to get it all done. I jumped in on January first, and I worked non-stop through the end of March. To my dismay, I discovered that while I had made progress, I was far from being on track to accomplish even half of what I wanted and needed.

No problem, right? I just needed to work more. However, I was at capacity. Between working on my goals, serving my clients and mentoring my team, there was no time left. (Not to mention my family, friends and a little time for me – all of which got pushed to the back burner). Even if I wanted to work more (which I did not), there was no more time. And believe me, I had no more energy.

Giving up was not an option, so I started to examine how I was working. I started asking myself questions: Could I work smarter? Or differently? It was in those questions, that I not only found the solution, but I found the answer to a problem I did not even know I had. Yes, you actually can work less and produce more – If you understand and use the following five strategies.

In this economy, the path to growth and profitability is tied to your ability and talent to fully engage your team. The more you understand what you need, and the better you are at communicating that to them, the more they will engage. The more your team engages, the less you work and the more you produce.

Sounds good, right? So how do you fully engage your team so you can work less? Follow these five strategies:

  1. Understand How You Make Money

Now I am not talking about the budget, I am talking about really understanding how your company makes money. What is the sales cycle from start to finish? How many days do you have to work a month just to pay the bills? How many more days do you have to work just to turn a profit? You need to get very clear about how your company makes money. First, so that you understand it; and second, so that your team does.

If you want your employees to fully engage, then they need transparency and clarity on just what it takes to run your business and keep the doors open, let alone make a profit. Once I shared with my team what it costs just to pay the light bill and their salaries on a monthly basis, their motivation to land a new client or service and existing one expanded. They became more diligent than I was about keeping expenses down and finding new sources of revenue.

  1. Know Your Value

Yours and everyone else’s. In other words, what is the highest and best use of everyone’s time and how do you make sure they are working in that space the majority of the time. For example, you must understand that you lose money when the sales people are doing paperwork. You lose when as the CEO are micromanaging rather than working on big picture vision or big business development.

In my company, we know that every moment I spend answering emails or entering information into the database, is time and money down the drain. Everyone on your team has value and ways they contribute to the bottom line. The more you keep them working in their highest and best use, the less you will work and the more you will produce.

  1. Choose Your Words Carefully

Being in leadership is tough. Everyone hangs on every word you say. So, you need to choose your words carefully. If you talk too much about policy and procedure, your team will forget customer service and teamwork. Instead, they will follow your policies to the letter of the law, rather than using logic and reason.

If you want to work less and produce more, you need to constantly focus your team on the bigger picture and the end goal. You need to choose your words carefully. Sure, you need to, at times, focus on policies and procedures. But no matter what, always bring them back to and remind them of what this is all about. When, as leaders we stay focused on the vision and goal, we teach our team members to think, rather than just act. When you build a team that thinks first, you will work less and produce more.

  1. Reward What You Want

And, while what you say is important, it is not nearly as important as what you do. Actions always speak louder than words. So, if you want a team of employees that works together, puts the customer first, and takes ownership of their job and their role in the company’s success, make sure you reward that.

When I started rewarding my team on their alignment and action around our company values, my business went to a whole new level. When you are clear on what it takes to make your company successful, and then you align your actions to support that, your team will produce more of those actions. And you guessed, as the leader you will work less and produce more.

  1. Ask For What You Want

Last but not least is my favorite: Ask for what you want. In other words, as the leader, stop solving all the problems. Stop being the one coming up with all the answers. Instead, learn to lead through the power of the question. Use open ended questions and ask the team for their ideas, their opinions and what they think needs to be changed to get the job done.

When you as the leader, ask for what you want, you engage your team at a higher level, encourage them to think and give them skin in the game. The result? You work less and produce more.

Yes, these are at best, challenging economic times. They call for smart leadership and a new approach to how to fully engage your team. With a little innovative thinking, and a willingness to push out of your comfort zone, you really can work less and produce more.