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Leading in 3D

Ever felt like there are simply not enough hours in the day? You’re not alone – most leaders, regardless of organizational level or tenure, have expressed a similar sentiment at some point (or even repeatedly). Because leadership is multi-dimensional, there is simply so much to be done and never enough capacity!

The 1st Dimension: Time

Time is a fixed boundary that demarcates one element of the business equation. Leaders routinely treat time as a variable rather than a constant, working extended hours and weekends and/or expecting the same of the team to expand their overall capacity to deliver on commitments. In actuality, the best leaders treat time as a fixed constant, encouraging those on the team to both work hard and smart, but also take personal time to recharge and enjoy experiences beyond work. These leaders also recognize the importance of taking personal time for themselves too; time to step away from the day-to-day, to nurture other relationships and arrive with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.

The 2nd Dimension: Money

As leaders encounter capacity constraints, one of the first variables they lobby for is additional funding – money. Requesting additional investment is cumbersome and often difficult both within and outside budgeting cycles as the pie is typically fixed in size and with historical allocations influenced by many and difficult to shift. It is even more difficult to be successful in such a request outside of formal budgeting cycles where money is already committed. Seeking additional funds is a lever that leaders must use selectively and avoid abusing in order to maintain effectiveness and leadership credibility.

The 3rd Dimension: Resources

The third lever leaders often consider when capacity constrained involves gaining additional resources. Having more people on the team over the same period of time contributes additional productivity hours. But adding more people to the team brings its own challenges – see earlier point about money constraints above and remember that more people = more communication and alignment challenges. Again, the lever of increasing assigned resources must be pulled judiciously and rarely to avoid negatively impacting a leader’s reputation.

The Box

Simply put:

The business will put you in a box defined by time, money and resources — you choose what to put in the box.

Realistically, while there are occasional exceptions, these three dimensions – time, money and resources – bound your overall capacity.

Leading in 3D

Leading in 3D is about what you choose to put in the box.

Consider the numerous remaining levers:

  • Establishing priorities,

  • Bounding scope,

  • Determining who to assign to the effort,

  • Assigning roles,

  • Identifying the leader(s),

  • Setting the strategy,

  • Defining boundaries,

  • Identifying key deliverables or milestones,

  • Establishing timelines (sometimes),

  • Defining the process and metrics, etc.

These (and others) are all levers that leaders can pull to set the team and the initiative up for success within the bounds of the box (defined by time, money and resources). The greatest leaders “color outside of the lines”; they see the landscape through a different lens, identify often unseen challenges and opportunities and reframe the box to gain advantage.

Those same leaders don’t necessarily view the box as constraining. Rather, they focus on the many existing variables to optimally deploy time, money and resources to achieve success. In 3D leadership, it’s all about using your intellect, experience and creativity to decide what to put in the box. What goes in the box is up to you.

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Lisa Andrade is founder and CEO of M33, an executive coaching and leadership development company proven in both the “executive” and “coaching” in executive coaching. M33 leverages the art of leadership and advanced leadership science to create an executive blueprint tailored to you and your organization. For an initial consultation with Lisa, contact M33 at

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