Leaders - How are you spending your time?

In our lifetime we will spend approximately 98,000 hour at work! Collectively we owe it to ourselves to ensure those hours are aligned to our purpose and passion whenever possible. We owe it to ourselves to be our best in everything we do.

As leaders we owe it to our peers, colleagues and subordinates to create opportunities and environments that set the organization up for success. People are the organizational greatest assets, yet we spend a ton of time focused on outcomes of the work and very little time helping people connect to their purpose or draw out their passion. As we progress in our career we end up having jam packed days that distribute the majority of our time to meetings, dealing with employee performance issues and analyzing the organization’s operational performance and financial data. 

The million dollar question is, are we spending enough time focused on creating our desired culture and inspiring others to be their best? 

The role of senior leaders is extremely critical to organizational success but their jobs cannot be done in a vacuum. Several studies have shown that highly successful leaders create shared visions, inspire others and spend up to 75% of their time developing their organizational culture. 

However, most leaders spend a ton of energy in the following areas:

  • Direct conversations with employees (and their customers) and not just their direct reports, so they can get a present-time and unfiltered view of what is happening inside and outside of the organization
  • Developing talent in their organizations, particularly their leadership team. This includes coaching others and providing support and resources and celebrating successes rather than criticizing and judging
  • Attend (skip level) team meetings as an observer of team functioning and leadership behaviors of others while creating shared values that resonate with employees
  • Modeling behaviors that lead to successful cultural interactions amongst peers, colleagues and staff
  • Observing, listening and reflecting, rather than talking, convincing and needing to be in the spotlight.

While all of this is necessary and extremely important, we must make time to develop and continually reinforce the organization’s cultural values, purposes and long-term strategies. 

In doing this we must keep the following in mind;

  • Purpose is a key ingredient for a strong, sustainable, scalable organizational culture. It’s an unseen-yet-ever-present element that drives an organizations success. It can be a strategic starting point, a market differentiator, and an organic attractor to others. It does the same things for individuals so lets find ways of aligning the work to the resources purpose and/or passion
  • Problems need innovative resolutions. We have to challenge our thinking, develop new or adjust current strategies and distribute leadership to be able to create the most effective solutions. Developing a culture where failure is encouraged will promote successful experimentation which can lead to differentiating innovation. 
  • People bring their whole-selves to work (mind, body and spirit) and often draw more upon their life experiences in decision making than their education. When developing talent we need to in the very least have an understanding of how these things impact or contribute to working style 
  • People are multi-faulted and the need to feel connected in purpose and cultural like-mindedness is inherent. No one leaves their burdens at home and the price of low employee engagement is costly to organizations. In developing the right culture we have to consider programs or networks where people can feel supported professionally and personally

“Do something you are passionate about, do something you love, (...) If you are doing something you are passionate about, you are just naturally going to succeed, and allot of other things will happen that you don’t need to worry about. There are so many opportunities and choices anyone can make about what they do. Do something you are passionate about. Life is too short.” 

- General Motors CEO Mary Barra

At the end of the day, creating a shared vision, leading from a place of purpose, being a little disruptive, bringing in the right people and developing an environment in which people can share new ideas, feel supported, respond favorably to change, and successfully develop new skills and capabilities enables organizational transformation. 

By spending our time in the right places we are more likely to build and sustain success in our organizations, full of passionate, innovative & supported employees who are inspired to be their best and do their best everyday. 

With Style & Grace, 

Kennedy -