How to be More Productive as a Leader
When I see a leader fixated—focused in like a laser beam on his work—I know he is not the most productive and effective he can be as a leader, even though he may believe he is arduously doing the work of a leader.
For hours he is sitting at his desk, looking into his computer, and making “important” phone calls. And I know this leader never made the transition from a non-leader to a leader because a leader’s most important work is with his people, not with his tasks.
See, when we don’t have a leadership position, we are most productive when we generally divide our time as such:
15% – time to think, strategize, dream
85% – time to get things done
Sometimes when we get promoted to a leadership position, we tend to continue the same pattern of focus unless we have previous experience or have been educated about this common tendency.
How to be More Productive as a Leader?
Add something else to your list…
Yes, leaders should add another extremely important element to the above task list: make sure others reporting to us are productive. We also need to increase the time we dedicate to thinking—after all, we have people to think about, the organizational structure to ponder, and the all-important culture to guide.
So a productive leader should spend their time more like this:
40% – time to think, strategize, dream
20% – time to get things done
40% – time to empower and remove obstacles for team members to be productive
When I talk to some leaders, they often complain about how much time they have to “waste” by talking to this person or that, to resolve issues, or to clarify or empower.
And I think to myself (and sometimes tell them), “That is exactly what the work of a leader is.” The job of a productive leader is to make sure others are productive. Period. To deal with the issues at hand that may be impeding their effectiveness. Not to tolerate immature behavior, gossip, or drama, but rather to navigate the normal human challenges that naturally come up.
I recently went to dinner with a business associate. It was a great time to connect and fellowship. But honestly, I would have preferred to stay home, read a book, write, or go have yogurt with my nephew or niece. But then I reminded myself…
This is the work of a leader.
I needed that time to connect with that person, to hear his concerns from the heart.
For me when the “people work” gets too stressful, demanding, or physically or emotionally exhausting, I have to remind myself of that. This is the work of a leader.
I also remind myself that if I am not willing to do the “people work” consistently, then I should not be in leadership. If all I want to do is “do work,” then I should not take a leadership position.
And today, I want to remind you of the same, my friend…
To be effective as a leader,
Take care of your people.
Make sure they are productive and effective.
Make sure they are empowered and inspired.
Yes to be productive as a leader…
Do the work of a leader.
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