Working with with busy executives, this is an issue which crops up more frequently than not. Too busy and not enough time to do it all. Wishing to be more strategic and effective as a leader but the day to day business of their working lives simply takes over. The unique window of time when they first took the job and had brilliant aspirations for the role is over. It’s been replaced by constant tactical decisions, the frenzy of email and endless meetings.
How often do you plan and organise your working day or week only to have it hi-jacked? Something else that you hadn’t planned for [usually someone else’s priorities] takes over. No-one works in a vacuum of course. There are reports to be compiled, the pressure for the quarter end results, presentations to be created, complaints to be handled, financial data to review, meetings to attend. These things demand immediate attention. There’s the guilty feeling of not spending as much time thinking about strategic direction as the role demands. Or communicating more effectively with people. The office can be a stressful place. Do you recognise any of this as the pattern of your working life?
So how do you make a change? How do you break the cycle of being very busy, maxed out even? You may feel you’re not achieving your goals in a way that’s more compatible with how you’d like to lead your life.
Sometimes, we fall into a trap of thinking leadership is something we have to do in addition to our job. If we view it as an ‘extra’ and not the main event, then we risk not fulfilling our leadership potential.
“Leadership is not something you do in addition to your job. It is your job”
Ken Chenault, American Express
So what can you start doing straight away which will help you make that shift from ‘too busy leader’ to respected leader who makes a difference to people and results?
Here are 5 things that will bring change for you:
What’s your vision?
Whatever size your company, division, department or team is, having a vision is vital. The reason a vision is so important is that it gives you a magnetic draw for everything you do. It gives meaning and purpose to the work you do as there is a context, a bigger picture.
How are you communicating?
I met someone at a conference who declared that his job was to interpret communication from senior management and no, he wasn’t working in a multilingual organisation or the United Nations. His role was to listen to what management was saying, interpret it in the same language, then go out and communicate it further down the line, again in the same language. Astonishing though that sounds, in some organisations, this is normal behaviour. How in touch are you with the people who are working with you? Do you speak in a way that needs interpretation before your audience can understand it, even though you share a common language?
Have you created a team?
When a group of people work together on a compelling goal, something they all care about, they become a team. Lots of leaders talk about teamwork yet don’t invest in teams or their development. Provide the space and time a team requires in order that it can become the architect of its own success.
Are you giving regular feedback?
Feedback? That funny, static noise musicians get when they stand too close to the amps or speakers? It’s direct, immediate and loud and clear. They adjust accordingly. They do that immediately, not when the concert is over. Feedback is so helpful and yet many people fear it. Not surprising, as it is often given indirectly, late and in a negative way. Feedback can be your friend. It is information which gives us insight into the patterns of our behaviours. It gives us choice. Give it generously with the best of intentions and receive it back just as generously.
Do you show appreciation and recognition?
Most of us enjoy recognition … for expertise, for results, for making a difference. Even if it’s our job to do those things, it’s a human desire to be appreciated and valued. Many companies introduce complicated schemes that negate the immediacy and sincerity in saying thanks for a job well done. Often, a simple and sincere thank you hits the mark more effectively. However you show appreciation, make it simple and sincere.
These are just some of the things you can do to improve your leadership impact. If you’d like to know more, we’d love to hear from you.
Photo credit – Brendan Welshby