As we head into the New Year, we usually do so with some renewed vigor — to do more, fit more things into our day, even adopt new systems or apps to help us achieve all that. We love to be efficient.
However, if you’re a CEO, a drive to be more efficient may just be the worst thing you can do.
If our quest is efficiency, we more naturally are drawn to activities that affirm and fuel that motivation, and ignore or discount those that, well, seem to be a waste of our time. More meetings, shorter meetings, being “crazy busy” stoke our ego. (And, just so you know, multitasking shrinks your brain. Really.)
Research on leadership all lines up to present plenty of evidence that the best CEOs – the ones with market-leading growth and profitability – focus on a set of activities that are, simply, time-consuming.
And they absorb themselves in it.
Things that can feel like “a waste of time.”
Recruiting, developing and supporting people takes time. Being able to step back from the tyranny of the urgent in business and think more spatially and inventively takes time. Understanding root causes of problems or barriers and creating new paths out of them takes time. Sensing the less obvious issues in the business – especially those that don’t clamor for attention – takes time.
Just having some time to think takes … time.
It feels enormously “inefficient” if we are slaves to the clock. It takes discipline and a bit of short-term sacrifice to step away from activity and create some mental, emotional and physical “space” – but in that space are found patience, creativity, perspective, and balance.
There are enough hours in the day for what matters most.