Do you feel you’re a good leader? Why or why not? Do you manage your time, your technology and your people well?
Today, leaders face unique challenges. Technological advances, in many ways, create ease of work for organisations, but technology also compresses workloads. Technology is no respecter of persons. With email, mobile phones, video conferencing, and social media it is easy for nearly anyone to reach a leader at any time of day or night. Unlike days of old, people expect attention and a quick response.
Today there isn’t the same amount of time for a leader to ponder decisions or seek advice. He or she needs to become adept in making good decisions quickly. This alone can cause new and ongoing pressure for leaders.
So just how does a leader filter through the information overload, the unimportant, the crucial, and make good decisions?
Master Your Schedule
Everyone has the same amount of time. Time hasn’t changed. Time goes on with or without action being taken. A leader can’t manage time, but a leader can manage him or herself. Leaders ultimately choose how their minutes, hours, or weeks are spent.
Every leader has the opportunity to refuse to allow life’s demands to control their schedule and dictate their priorities. The good news is, through conscientious and determined effort, a leader can become the master of his or her own schedule. That means eliminating time wasters.
Here are a few time wasters to be cautious of. See if any apply to you.
Technology: Today organisations need to be technologically advanced, but technology can be a huge time waster. Manage your technology, don’t let it manage you.
Personnel: If you don’t have the staff to handle smaller matters, you’ll use your own valuable time. When you go through your day, ask yourself if what you’re doing could be done by someone else whether in- house or by sub-contract.
Idle Conversation: Most leaders desire to spend time with their people. A short conversation can be informative, eye-opening, encouraging, and ultimately profitable to the bottom line. On the other hand, conversations can become nothing more than prolonged, gossipy time wasters. Choose your conversations wisely.
Communication: Small talk is acceptable in communication, but efficient leaders are succinct in their communication. They choose their words wisely on phone calls, and their emails are concise, getting to the point.
Activities and Addictions: Certain personal activities have a way of relieving stress, but it’s important they not become problematic. Too many late lunches, golf dates, late night activities, too much web surfing, and so, on eat into valuable time and energy. When activities consume a leader, including workaholism, it becomes detrimental to his or her important relationships and to the organisation. Is there any seemingly innocuous activity you’re involved in that could potentially derail you?
Disorganisation: Piling up papers for later and leaving emails unanswered can be your undoing. When you read correspondence, decide on an action for it. If possible, only deal with it once.
Abhorrence of Administrative tasks: A leader is in his or her role because they are gifted to lead not because they love handling administrative tasks. Again, hiring competent help and delegating is important if you’re to stay prepared and efficient.
Overwhelm: Key indicators that you’re not managing yourself well include feeling constantly behind, burnt out, or feeling distressed. The key to managing your workload is doing the right things at the right time. A good strategy is to invest in the projects that are the most important and that have close deadlines. Resist the temptation to take on too much at once.
Inability to Prioritise: At the start of every day, you can choose what to do and what not to do with your time and energy. When you take on one thing, something else has to go. Success as a leader is not based on how much you accomplish, but on how well you manage what you accomplish.
Savior Mentality: Feeling like you have to do everything yourself and put every fire out on your own may be nothing more than an effort to appear indispensable. Some leaders base their self-worth on the addictive rush of feeling needed. It can be called a savior mentality. Unfortunately, a savior mentality offers a false sense of importance and can lead to burnout.
Inability to Say No: Leaders who are in it for the long haul aren’t afraid to turn down many of the opportunities presented to them. All leaders have limitations. To avoid overwhelm, these leaders decline projects or delegate them. They know how to say no.
Hoarding the Work: There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do an expert job. There’s nothing wrong with becoming a high-profile leader who does great work. But wise leaders audit their commitments, share the work, mentor, and share the praise. Not only is hoarding all the work a recipe for stress, it deprives up-and-coming leaders from opportunities to grow and serve.
Caught in Frustration: Disagreements are bound to occur. Projects fail, and demands get ridiculous. Budget isn’t always met and followers become may become disillusioned. All this can lead to anger and frustration. But acting out is a time and energy waster. Very few leaders fix a problem through stewing, yelling, or stomping their feet. Going for a walk, meditating, and focusing on solutions is more beneficial. Good leaders rebound by focusing on what is working, what is right, and what gives hope. Good leaders keep balance in their life and value self-care so they aren’t so easily upset.
The tips above provide a fairly simple inventory for anyone in leadership to consider from time-to-time. These tips will help ensure you maintain balance in the areas of time, technology, and people management. A review of this list may also be validating when you realise you’re doing many things well.
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