I recently read a post from a friend who was sharing three leadership concepts that are important to keep in mind: self-empathy, or the idea of reflecting on how you treat yourself and how others see you treat yourself; building team rituals; and thriving on volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, known as “VUCA.”
From an organizational culture perspective, all three elements feed into the type of hard-charging and caring organizational culture you likely want to shape. But there is one critical piece to leadership that was not mentioned that I believe is important to note as well: learning to balance time.
Assertive cultures, like those I’ve observed in the U.S., tend to push, pedal to the metal, to get stuff done. For some, this “push” might last a few months, while for others, it might last years. It boils down to what your company is trying to do. Are you trying to build a company that lasts, or are you trying to build a company that you can one day sell? If you’re building a company with the goal of selling it in a few years, for example, there won’t be much time for you to perfect everything, as perfectionism requires reflection and time—time you likely don’t have if you need to constantly push to meet deadlines.
According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s forecast on labor productivity, among some of the world’s most productive countries, we find the U.S. However, the U.S. is also said to be the most overworked developed country. Perhaps, then, “assertiveness” is the wrong managerial and leadership focus. I believe organizations need to work on finding the best of both worlds when it comes to productivity and a healthy work-life balance.
This brings me to my suggestion for all managers and leaders: Learn to balance and prioritize your time. If you start a multinational project, for example, take the time to get to know all parties involved, as this could ultimately help you cut time to market in half. Similarly, if an employee is going through a rough patch, give them some of your time and help. Time is the biggest scarcity leaders have to deal with, so it’s important you spend it wisely.
How can you go about doing this?
1. Schedule 30 minutes a week to self-reflect in your work calendar. Doing this during work time ensures your employees also take an example from your time management practices, and they, too, can build a ritual that works for them.
2. Schedule 30 minutes a week for your team to reflect. This builds a sense of community, and together you can all reflect on how to better manage your time and what to prioritize.
3. Look at which tasks are taking up the most time. Then, ask yourself: Are you doing those tasks right? Are you focusing on the right things? Why are you doing them? In my experience, asking these questions can help you improve your efficiency and effectiveness, as well as ensure you’re focused on tasks that have a purpose.
Building this ritual makes it more likely that you do not waste time by lack of reflection and mutual alignment. Sometimes it takes some time to save time.