Time management? Really? Beyond routine, day-to-day tasks, most managers fail to seize opportunities to achieve something significant.
Simply put, they struggle with time management, life balance and priorities.
How leaders approach time management in an over-committed work life can be a serious struggle. Getting to ‘life balance’ is often only wishful thinking. 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?” As I see it, this question is directly connected to the issue of time management in leadership.
Energy and Focus
Leaders who exhibit purposeful action possess two critical traits: 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.
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 rather than falling into the trap of being busy but accomplishing little that is truly critical. They avoid falling victim to the unintentional practice of “busy idleness”.
“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.
Do you recognize these managerial styles? Through the lens 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!
Oh, and before you go – leave a comment below! It all starts with a conversation 😉
Author: Cathy Shaughnessy
Cathy Shaughnessy is a PRISM award winning ICF Master Certified Coach and author of the book series The Really Competent Coach. Cathy coaches senior leaders, mentors credentialed coaches, trains fledgling coaches and helps organizations build strong coaching cultures.
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