As a leader, your role is to be a multiplier. That could apply to growing the profit of your business or enhancing the skills of your team. However, challenges arise when you don’t use your time wisely or place limits on your thinking. This is why Time and How you think are your two most valuable assets. Below are some examples of how influential leaders think and use their time.
As the saying goes: ‘time waits for no-one’. It’s true! We all have the same amount of time in our day. But, as a leader, using your time effectively is vital. This is even more challenging as your responsibilities grow or your role becomes more complex. Take a moment to step back and consider if you are spending your time for maximum impact, based on where you are heading, i.e., your vision. Easier said than done! Here are four areas you should focus on to move you forward:
Teamwork and people
They say the art of effective management is getting things done through people. It therefore makes sense that effective leaders spend lots of time with people, either serving their teams to help them deliver more effectively or engaging with clients to solve problems. Here’s a tip: ensure you have equipped your people with the right tools and training to do their jobs. Added to that, make sure the standard you expect is clearly defined so you can achieve your desired outcomes.
Whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly or yearly, leaders regularly review their goals and plans to stay on track. Without that focus, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day issues. Something to consider with goal-setting — make them visual! Don’t spend time creating goals only to hide them on your computer. Print them out, put them up and look at them daily. Make sure you only have two to three immediate goals to focus on. Otherwise you risk becoming overwhelmed.
Keeping up with daily tasks is something we all have to do. But results-driven leaders manage tasks smartly to avoid time-wasting, which keeps them away from their people and overall mission. Whenever you take on a task, ask yourself: should I be doing this or is there someone I can either teach to do it or delegate it to? A leader that tries to do too many things at once is not an effective leader. Be clear on the tasks you are best at and where you’ll have maximum impact.
You can only lead others as far as you’ve been lead. This makes ongoing development vital for your success. Leaders who want to create impact do this daily, even if it’s just ten minutes a day to start. For most of us, the biggest challenge by far is that we live in an information-saturated world. So, choose your influencers carefully, based on your values and vision. Ask yourself: will this article, book or blog I’m reading sharpen or hone my skills or simply be a time-waster. If you only had ten minutes a day, what would you read?
Have you ever noticed that highly effective leaders are extremely focused in their thinking and that their thinking translates directly to how they communicate? It’s doubtful this is an accident. There’s an old Proverb: “As a man thinks, so he is”. Which translates to: ‘your thinking directly impacts your behaviour’.
Below are four areas to consider:
I once read that the Google team asks this question daily, “What is here today that was not here yesterday?” Great question! Effective leaders are constantly considering where the gaps for growth lie. The beauty of this way of thinking is it will (or should) direct your daily habits and behaviour.
I think it’s safe to say that humans are wired to avoid pain — I know I am! A key learning from all great leaders is they understand that pain or uncomfortable moments as they weigh up a big decision or venturing into uncharted waters is a part of growth. So, the next time you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself: where is the uneasy feeling coming from? Not all discomfort is bad.
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything?’. Leaders focus on their inner compass to help guide decisions. This is especially important in times of stress or when you need to make difficult decisions. Don’t confuse this with being uncomfortable with uncharted territory.
Present + future
In my line of work I have seen both extremes: Leaders that are so future-focused and don’t relate to their teams and those that are so present-focused they are lost in fighting fires on the ground every day. Effective leaders mediate on the future, but also think about issues in the present that may hold up future progress. Without adding this discipline they can’t ‘focus forward’. Try to achieve a balance of both when it comes to your thinking.
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