LEADERS MAKE TIME
During this pandemic, leaders have been finding themselves under increasing pressure to be productive. So many leaders I know complain about back-to-back meetings. At the end of the work day, they are often exhausted. That is not a smart way to use work time.
People have been complaining about their poor time management habits for years. Consultants across the world have become wealthy from conducting time management seminars. During these seminars, the ideas sound great. But so often leaders go back to their office and get sucked into the same old time-teasing behaviors.
What’s really needed is a change in paradigms. Leaders who say “I didn’t have time to…” are missing the point. They need to change their verb from “have” to “make.” Leaders need to make time for their most important tasks and thinking. This requires expertise at a different skill: priority setting.
In order to set appropriate priorities about how to use their time, leaders must give themselves permission to plan beforehand and to reflect afterward. This applies to projects, meetings, decision-making and even attending conferences. Pause and reflect beforehand – what do I want to learn or achieve here? Pause and reflect afterward – what did I gain and how I can I use it going forward?
This point came to the fore for me this week during a coaching session with a smart and experienced leader. This leader holds all-staff meetings Tuesday mornings. For two years she has held her one-on-one meetings with each teammate during the day on Mondays. Her reasoning was that if she could gain insights and information from everyone the day before, she would be ready for a meaningful and productive Tuesday full staff meeting.
Once we explored her rationale and compared it to her reality, she realized that by cramming all her one-on-one meetings into Monday, she was indeed collecting much helpful information for herself, but she was not fulfilling her primary objective – to deepen her relationships with her teammates and to really listen for their wants and needs. She was too busy worrying about her schedule and the next meeting to give each teammates her undivided attention. She realized these one-on-one meetings were about her teammates, not just about her need to be on top of all relevant information.
Now she will spread out her one-on-ones throughout the week. By the close of the work week, she will still have all the information she needs to run a productive full team meeting the following Tuesday. AND she will have used her time wisely, making time to prepare well for each teammate meeting and making time to pause and reflect after each meeting.
Please remember – we cannot manage time. There is only a finite amount available to us. However, we can always strive to improve at managing ourselves more effectively within the time that we possess!
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