“Busy idleness” affects most people working in companies. And from what I see, in the work I do in coaching, it becomes more pervasive the larger the organization. While we have easy access to knowledge and time-saving resources, we continue to spend most of our time making the inevitable happen, instead of committing energy and focus to the few activities that can really make a difference.
Beyond routine, day-to-day tasks, most managers fail to seize opportunities to achieve something significant. This problem is nothing new. Stanford University Management Professors Jeffrey Pfeffer, PhD, and Robert Sutton, PhD, studied this dynamic for their book, The Knowing-Doing Gap.
They asked: “Why do so much education and training, management consulting, and business research…produce so little change in what managers and organizations actually do?…Why [does] knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fail to result in action or behavior consistent with that knowledge?”
Energy and Focus
Energy is characterized by more than effort; it requires involvement in meaningful activities, fueled by both external and internal resources. Purposeful action is self-generated, engaged and self-driven. I talked about this in my last post, Yes You Can Stay Calm Amid Chaos! Focus!
If 90 percent of managers fail to act purposefully in their everyday work, what exactly are they doing? Heike Bruch’s and Sumantra Ghoshal’s study, conducted over a 10-year period and published in A Bias for Action, identifies four profiles of managerial behavior. Those with high focus but low energy appear detached. Managers with low focus and low energy are seen as procrastinators. Low focus and high energy leaders can seem frenzied. The most productive leaders by contrast are both high focus and high energy. They show up as purposeful leaders.
Do you recognize these managerial styles? Do you work with any managers who are detached? Frenzied? By using a perspective of focus and energy, you can see how this happens. And that’s the first step to changing any behavior: awareness.
What do you think? If you recognize yourself, maybe we should talk!