Are you busy or productive? This question is a provocative question to start with but it’s worth asking believe me. As a leader you’re certainly looking for effectiveness in leadership, this is the holy Grail, the quest, the journey to personal success and career development. Effective leadership requires you to adopt appropriate behaviors and leadership practices that fit your role in the organization and provide results that leverage your potential to achieve what is expected. This is the theory. Effective leadership is like running an engine with the most appropriate tuning to allow an optimum output vs. energy consumption ratio.
Now in the real world while additional projects, ideas, tasks are piling up on your desk and solicitations are popping on your phone and emails, when you need to rush from meeting to meeting, when people around you are waiting for your answers, directions and guidance, how do you make sure you’re still effective? You’re now dealing with race conditions, conflicting forces are everywhere, demand for speed is high, tires are wearing out, gas consumption is high, brakes are burning and all around the competition wants to beat or kill you. You need to focus and you’re getting tired, it hurts….
This is not any more about being smart and competent nor about leadership skills. It’s about being able, being in capacity to deal with all of these solicitations and demands. Your own engine (brain, heart and body) has a limited (and often unknown) capacity – you like it or not – to deliver the appropriate volume of energy and torque to propel your career in the right direction.
In such a situation the risk is to become busy instead of effective. You will find yourself busy with all the tasks you want and think you need to achieve. But it won’t be possible to do all in an effective manner. When your capacity is exceeded you can’t deliver all what you expect. It’s just time for you to start making bad decisions and deliver poorer performance. Projects deadlines are shifting, decisions are pending with no real closure, problems remain unsolved. A world of unfinished businesses is building up until you either break down or lose control and go out of the road. You become busy with everything but not productive. Consequences will be hard on you.
It’s time to slow down and try an objective assessment of the situation with an external help if possible, a coach, to make choices and priorities on what needs to be done. We are not talking about simple recipes on time management, to do list or resources planning but about a real in depth analysis of what is important and a re-definition of the personal investment strategy. Your decision should be based on your best contribution capacities, where your impact will be the greater, what is important to you. For the rest make sure you either stop or reorient and redeploy activities and tasks to get alignment in the organization on what is strategically important. As a result, you and the rest of the organization will be less busy and much more productive and effective in the way you’re all leading your business activities.