By Michael Holland     

There’s the young leader slowly walking in the door to work at 7:50 am.  His face reveals the agony he feels on this Friday morning as he’s worked so many hours this week just trying to get ahead of the workflow for his team and himself.  He’s in for a 10 hour day again and still won’t feel like he’s accomplished much.  He looks around the office and sees other leaders walking around in a similar zombie like appearance migrating to their offices and conference rooms with little excitement.  He wonders to himself, will I do this for the next 32 years of my career?

Leaders are killing themselves by working longer rather than smarter.  Here are 3 habits/beliefs that hold leaders back.

  1. Leaders are Meeting for Meetings Sake – So the average length of a meeting is between 60 and 90 minutes, 9 out of 10 people daydream in meetings, 60% of meeting attendees take notes to appear as if they are listening and 63% of the time, typical meetings do not have prepared agendas.  Get smarter about meetings, listen to Patrick Lencioni’s Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business which will take less time than the meetings you will attend today.
  2. Leaders Lack Real Prioritization – If you could leave work when you have completed the 3 most important things you were supposed to do for the day would you know what those 3 things are?  Virtually every time management tool, methodology, and cult hinges a premise that you must determine your priorities.  Each afternoon just before you leave the office write down the 3 things you must get done tomorrow.  Do this habit for 21 days and let me know how it’s working out for you.
  3. Leaders Have Bought Into the Belief the Workday Should be Longer – As professional workers, most leaders aren’t supposed to look at their pay as a per hour basis.  We buy into the belief that we are supposed to work the time it takes to get the job done.  We believe that we must be in the office for 9 hours and be connected to others in the hours leading up to our workday and the hours after our workday.  What I wonder about is this: how many hours a day can you truly be productive?

Less-seasoned leaders have little latitude in their ability to control the culture, politics and workday expectations in which they have found themselves.  But they can control how they survive and thrive in these environments.  They can choose to create their own standard to which they will adhere and ever so slowly build a tribe of peer leaders and employees who will adjust the environment.

Seasoned leaders have the personal, political, and organizational power to adjust the workday expectations.  But do they have the fortitude to leverage these powers to create new standards?

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Why do you think seasoned leaders hesitate from adjusting the expectations of the standards for workdays?  What would you think of a seasoned leader who started working just 7 hours a day?
  • What is the biggest time waster for you during most days?
  • Do you know your true priorities for the day?  Find a peer to partner with on the 21 day challenge to set you priorities for the next day and together see where the challenge leads you.