“There is not enough time in the day”. We have all heard that statement and my guess is you have actually said it yourself. But what if I told you that I think there is enough time in the day…plenty of time to feel fulfilled and have an impact on people and business.
I have learned a lot about leadership through sitting in leadership seats, coaching many leaders myself (selfishly I learn everyday from my clients) and failing “in life and leadership”. While I am not one to usually use catchy phrases or acronyms in my teaching, I have given a lot of thought to what a solid foundation of effective leadership is and landed at my original acronym of T.I.M.E.. Not meaning original in broken down context but original in being put together as a foundation to leadership.
I recently was facilitating an executive retreat and was on the topic of effective leadership. At one point I had the participants do a simple exercise…write down, in percentages, how you split your time between doing work you should be delegating and leading. The CEO was spending only 10% of his time leading. You see, this is typical. All too often people find themselves in leadership positions because they were good at something. But, have no idea of how to be an effective leader or how to now fill their days. They were the top salesperson, the most accurate and timely IT person, etc…you get it, right? Their ego’s tell them to continue to provide value to the company by doing what they are good at. Unfortunately, they have people underneath of them screaming for direction, feedback, mentoring and what I call, “a little love”. So the first lesson in this acronym is to literally do an audit of how you are allocating your T.I.M.E.. It will feel odd at first that you are doing something like taking 30 minutes a day to walk around and check in on some folks. You may even leave for the day feeling as if you did not accomplish anything. You will be accomplishing more than you know…trust me.
Now let’s break down T.I.M.E..
Give me a “T”.
TRUST. Do your employees trust you? Do you trust your employees? Building trust requires spending time with people. It requires listening intently. It requires learning about your employees competencies and have them understand yours. I get it, “Duh, Ted, I know trust is fundamental”. But do you work on it. Well even more elementary, do you even truly know if your employees trust you? Or, do you not trust an employee, for whatever reason, but have not confronted the employee about it? Instead you are doing the work for them. Real smart allocation of your time and money, eh? Let me simply say you can’t work on this until you make the time to figure our where you stand with your employees through conversation and observing actions and behaviors. Building, earning and reciprocating trust takes effort and maintenance. Start by figuring out where you stand right now…you may just find out you have a lot of work to do.
Give me an “I”.
INTENT. “It’s lonely at the top”. Have you ever thought why people say this? I have. And conclude that it gets lonely at the top when your intent is in the right place. What do I mean? I mean that your actions become selfless because your intent shifts from being out for your own betterment to being focused on two levels of intent that are not self focused. First, on a micro level you spend your days trying to ensure that your employees are getting enough of you to make them better than you…your intent is to make them shine, not you. Trust me, when you do this, you will never leave for the day feeling as if you haven’t accomplished something…you will leave feeling drained. And yes, the lonely feeling starts…who is looking out for you? Secondly, on the macro level, your intent needs to shift from being focused on just your department to the greater good. We hear it all the time…departments battling for recognition or ownership, varying managers “sticking up” for “their” people. In leadership everyone is your priority because like it or not you are viewed as a leader by everyone. You have no clue what immediate impact you can have simply by reshaping your intent on these two levels. Again, not easy to do and a great scenario where “Actions speak louder than words” is so visibility true. If this resonates, Ouch! I have heard many people state their intent but have seen their actions nullify their words…let’s change this.
Give me a “M”.
MEANING. Anyone that has been coached by me or that has participated in a leadership retreat with me has heard me say over and over again, “This is freaking hard work”. Leadership when done effectively can leave us drained, stressed, feeling lonely, and deeply insecure. For these reasons I advise people to find deeper meaning for doing what they do. Why do you go to work beyond to do a good job and get paid? Something that keeps you rooted and that you can fall back on to be invigorated. Something that is not simply documented or said but that is acted on, reflected on and in many instances relied on. An easy one, for many of us, would be “to provide for my family”. But wait, provide what? I have sat with far too many people that say this yet have failed miserably at providing what the family needs…it’s so much more than money. So, if you come home after a draining day and don’t fully engage your family you are not truly connected in the way I am suggesting. Much like my last post…engage with your family because they need that but feel invigorated and connected to something deeply meaningful….give yourself a gift. This will be different for all of us but much the same in how it drives us. When we connect to something deeper we actually become more driven and more determined to good in this world and at work.
Give me an “E”.
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. I know. Big buzz word of the last few years, right? When examined closer some buzz words are worth a thorough review. And, this is one of them. In my opinion, a game changer at home and at work.
It is, by definition: The ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Now think about this and reflect on your past week. If you were better at this imagine how much more effective you would have been last week. Did you blow a gasket? Maybe not blow a gasket but got angry and shut down? Did you have an employee come to you leading with emotion and wasted an hour of both your time or did you redirect the emotion towards an outcome? I used to ask my Dad what he really did as a college president. He would say something like, “I put out fires, make people get along and babysit”. He was revered as one of the best community college presidents in the country.
People are emotional. And, no matter how you slice leadership, at it’s very foundation it is about dealing with people. I am not dismissing varying other skill sets that are needed but I am suggesting that this one is where we need the most work.
The first step to being more emotional intelligent, in my opinion, is not forgetting where you came from….becoming more empathetic. I mean think back to when you were an employee and didn’t get direction. Or when you encountered a hardship…how did you show up at work, what did it feel like and look like to others? See, if you can remember how things felt for you, you will be better at recognizing varying emotions in other people. This is huge and something to begin to work on today.
So, your guide to the foundation of becoming the leader people WANT to follow:
I – Intent
E – Emotional Intelligence
I do not have a ghost writer or an editor. I would rather protect my authenticity then worry about grammatical or spelling errors…at least for now. But, I do have my wife. Angel asked me last night when my next post was coming out and what it was going to be about. I said, “I am working on one with that leadership acronym I told you about”. Her response, “Oh, I like the other stuff much better but I am sure it will be ok”. Not the response I was looking for but she reminded me of something and inspired the ending of this post…
Leadership is action, not position! What I have laid out above pertains to most of us no matter what we are leading. Angel doesn’t know I am writing this but this absolutely pertains to her as she leads my sons everyday I leave the house. I witness her working on the above almost everyday. In fact, one could argue there isn’t a more powerful platform to work on your emotional intelligence or building trust than staying home every day with two boys (20 months and 3 years). God Bless her! Ahh, the lessons in leadership begin much before we get the corner office. Angel is a gifted leader. And, our sons are “A” players that present us both with plenty of scenarios to learn and grow from.
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