A while back, I was in the midst of disciplining my teenage son. He’d done something… and for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was. However, I did what most parents do and took his phone! I placed it on my nightstand and without thought didn’t turn it off. Immediately it starting ringing, chiming, and buzzing with notifications non-stop. I’d never seen anything like it before… it was rapid-fire texts, Snap-Chats, and notifications from seemingly everything and everyone on planet Earth! I became so irritated by the distraction my knee-jerk reaction was to throw the phone out of my room to get as far away from it as quickly as humanly possible. It was no wonder why it was such a struggle to get him to come down and spend quality time with the family, focus on his schoolwork, and spend quality time with his siblings. He was being inundated with rings and dings; this couldn’t have been good or healthy for him… and it can’t be for you either as a leader! As a leader, you’re attempting to do your job; with your phone ringing and dinging with work stuff and family stuff, constant emails, employee questions and concerns, customer complaints, higher-up quotas and demands, and constant company change. So, what to do?
As a leader, your job is not to do all of the tasks… it’s to evolve the process and lead your people that do the tasks; leading to the goal of world’s best customer and employee satisfaction! Instead of focusing on how to be better, we can easily fall into the trap of getting the job done day-to-day and surviving. Remember, “Busy” doesn’t mean “Better”… and it’s hard to get better when managing the onslaught of the ringing and dinging of phones, emails, employees, co-workers, and life!
The interesting thing I found when I took my son’s phone away was… slowly, I began to hear more interaction coming from upstairs as he and his younger brother were laughing and joking (and irritating each other, but I’ll take it), he came downstairs to purposefully hang-out and watch movies, his grades improved, and he was more of a human being! The same will happen to you, your leaders, employees, teams, and organization when you purposefully choose to disconnect and focus in these three ways:
O.F.P. – Organize, Focus, and Plan
Organize – This is simple… either you will run the day or the day will run you! As a leader, when we begin our day… be mindful to organize it by creating a list. For me to successfully run my business I’ve found there’s a consistent list of 15-20 things I get to do per day. Your list may include already scheduled meetings for the day, emails, employee contact, client contact, etc. Whatever your list consists of, get it out of the tornado of “Things-to-Do” most people carry in their head, write it down, and cross it off. It’s hard to provide your full attention to anything when attempting to remember and keep straight all of the things you need to get done in a day. It’s also rewarding at the end of the day to see just how much you accomplished and your efforts weren’t in vain!
Focus – Stay focused on the task at hand. Whatever you’re doing… that’s what you’re doing. Years ago, I had a moment I still laugh at to this day. I was sitting at my desk responding to emails, thinking of a thousand things as each email was from a different organization, my phone started to ring with various calls… which I took, then texts were coming through for work-related details, my kids informing me of their practice schedules, suddenly I’d had it and there’s goes my phone out the office door! Sound familiar?
Be mindful and focus on the thing you’re doing at the moment. DO THAT and move on to the next task. I know, this is easier said than done; as things come up, emergencies happen, and people need you and your feedback. However, I’ve found most people’s emergencies are only emergencies because we, as leaders, allow them to be. Most things are not an emergency and I encourage you and your team to define what a true emergency really is. Many of these moments may be adverted and you can protect your time and enhance your team’s leadership by saying, “Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’m looking forward to speaking with you about this; right now I’m in the middle of __________. Can we get together at 2:00pm today or tomorrow at 9:00am to discuss”. This leads us to Planning!
Plan – Planning is two-fold. It may make sense to plan the things you know are time-consuming or require your full attention to a time of day that best suits you, or the team, or your customer. For example, I don’t wake up checking my emails. I may scan them when I know Agreements are pending or for emergencies by my definition. However, I don’t respond to emails or get into that world until about 11:00am… and the organizations I do work with are aware and know to text me when and if it’s really important. I’ve planned it to fit who I am and to work at my best pace!
The second part of planning is creating a plan to allow your employees and team to develop their leadership skills. I’m big on providing coaching and opportunity first… and it’s amazing what happens to talent and work ethic! Develop a plan that allows your people to make decisions up to a certain point… then come to you. Perhaps they can make a decision up to a certain financial point, schedule meetings, etc… this happens because they know the Vision, Vision Factors, Expectations, Rules, and what the wins are. This part of planning is a bit harder; as you will have to white-knuckle it for a bit as your people get used to exercising their leadership muscle!
Reset & Set Daily
Want better focus and more clarity… do it in a neater setting! You know what your desk or work area looks like after a long day. I know what mine looks like! I also know how I feel after tidying up after a long day and this may sound a bit OCD… but I love vacuuming my office carpet; allowing me to walk in the next day to a clean desk and fresh office. I’ll be honest… I organize my desk daily, but vacuum about twice per week! Maybe vacuuming is a bit much for you, but organizing your desk is not and will pay dividends to your peace of mind. Even the person that says, “I know where everything is and this is how I do it” has also mentioned to me their secret goal is to be more organized and that it would help them professionally! So, reset after each day and set your day up with a winning list of “Get-To’s and WINS for the day!
Much of your time as a person in a professional position of leadership is spent in meetings, emails, and putting out fires. You are in the business, doing the business, but may not be leading the business and putting yourself in the position or mindset of propelling it forward. Remember, “Busy” doesn’t mean “Better”.
Evolving-Time suggests you make time and take time to STOP and THINK. Yes, I give you permission to stop, think, and build. It may be 15 mins or an hour. I give myself 30 mins once per month and/or when I feel I need it. In my book, 7 Ways to Lead, I call it “Get My Life Together Saturdays” and I do one of two things:
- Continue/Stop/Start – What’s going great and yielding results = Continue! What may I need to stop because it’s not yielding the defined wins? What would I benefit from starting; professionally or personally that would professionally and personally benefit me and those around me?
- The R. – It’s an honor and pleasure to do this for organizations, leaders, employees, and teams around the world. Make time and take time to rate yourself on a scale from 1-10 in roles that matter to you: leader, professional, co-worker, and any personal role that matters to you. What number do you give yourself, why, and what do you believe would take you up a number or two? There’s more to this, but even this start is powerful and impact-enhancing to your leadership and work/life harmony as it’s hard to lie to yourself. The answers that will come cannot be denied!
As leaders, we have the honor and obligation to best care for our people, our organization, and ourselves… A Leader’s Focus helps with that. Be mindful to O.F.P., Reset & Set, and make time and take time for Evolving-Time consistently and watch what happens to your focus, your leadership, your work/life harmony, and that of those around you!
“As a leader, your job is not to do all of the tasks… it’s to evolve the process and lead your people that do the tasks; leading to the goal of world’s best customer and employee satisfaction!” – Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
Enhance Leadership and Work/Life Harmony in your Organization, your Leaders, Employees, and Teams with Andre Young’s Speaking Engagements, Evolve & Lead Training Programs (on-site, online, or virtual), and1-on-1 Growth Sessions! www.youevolvingnow.com