Here is my medal to prove it! I am officially the busiest person in the organisation, and therefore the most important! Notice me as I wear my medal proudly around my neck.
Don’t you love watching people? It is always fascinating at conferences. At every break there is invariably the rush to the door, mobile phone to the ear, just checking in. “Are you sure you’re doing ok without me; you can’t be, surely?”
What do truly great leaders actually occupy themselves with? What takes their time, what do they prioritise, what should be important and why?
I heard a good phrase this week, “I’m not busy, I’m distracted”. I hear that the average Australian now spends 10 hours a week on social media. How on task are you really and how truly productive are you?
Contrary to the popular myth, leaders don’t have to the the busiest people in the organisation, the most stressed, do the most hours, do the work for others, be the hero against whose everyone else’s measures their worth. It isn’t a competition–the actual prize isn’t worth it. Instead they should be good role models for a healthy work-life balance.
Leaders should never be too busy that they become inaccessible: the person that no one wants to disturb because their issues would seem too trivial or insignificant in comparison.
I like to set goals for the things I would like to achieve in a day. But I have to constantly remind myself that sometimes the distraction may be far important than the goal, particularly if it is to do with the people you serve.
The staff member who comes into your office wanting the vent, or who is just in need of a sympathetic ear. It is in fostering these relationships, the giving of your time, that a leader is doing their most important work. It is then that they are building trust, and ultimately trust is far more important to an organisation because it unlocks the huge potential of the ‘we’.
The moment you set yourself goals that can only be achieved behind your desk you are moving from leading to managing (unless it is to prepare an inspirational speech that articulates a compelling vision for the future). Of course these things have to be done, but not in the name of leadership, rather in the name of necessity to ensure the smooth functioning of the organisation.
There is nothing wrong with being extremely busy, but what you are saying when you place that medal around your neck is that you don’t have time for others, you don’t have the time to cultivate what is the most important task of a leader. As a leader one of your key jobs is building the capacity of others and empowering them to do their roles so you can achieve the organisation’s vision together.
Take the medal off. Pop it in the draw. Remember, you should never be too busy for the people you serve.