A few weeks ago, upon the invitation of an officer in a Fortune 25 corporation, I spent the day with his leadership team discussing the concepts in my newest book, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time. With many new initiatives in the pipeline, his leaders were facing time management challenges around getting everything done, personally and within their respective teams. While much of our conversation is confidential around specific business strategies of course, I can share some of the insights we discovered.
I shared my 3T Leadership Model, which describes where leaders divide their time:
Part I: Strategic Thinking (Business)
Acting as the organizational strategist, with the focus on business goals. The leader monitors the big picture and makes sure their team’s efforts match up with and reinforce the company’s goals.
Part II: Teamwork (Employees)
Serving as the conscientious leader who focuses on employee productivity. Often, this is the low- to mid-level leader’s most important role, because building and maintaining an effective, productive team is the first step toward high performance.
Part III: Tactical Work (Self)
Being the productive performer, focusing on task completion. Even a team member in a non-leadership position may be an executive in the loosest sense of the term, in that he or she is a productive performer, executing strategy and day-to-day operational responsibilities.
You can take the same assessment they took from my book at www.3TLeadership.com. This will help you determine your scores in each category and where you might need to make changes.
We broke up in small groups to discuss and diagram as a percentage, where various levels of leadership (CXO, Director, Manager, IC) should be spending time in these three areas. Then they calculated on a Personal Time Worksheet, based on the group input and their job titles, where they should be spending time in the THINK, TEAM, and TACTIC categories and then calculate the delta.
After everyone graphed their results on a whiteboard, the overall group result was a 20% REDUCTION IN TIME SPENT ON TACTICAL. As a whole, the team said they must learn to be more efficient in the day-to-day work (emails, organization, scheduling, meetings, interruptions, etc.) and more time coaching, delegating, and working on high-value, long-term projects. So we spent a great deal of our time focusing on how to reduce tactical time after reading these results.
Then I posed this question: Specifically, describe how your time would need to shift to spend your time in the way you believe you should. What would need to change?
They wrote their answers on a notecard and returned them to me for summary and reporting out to the larger group. Here are a selection of their responses about what would need to change:
- Continue to prioritize and strive for the perfect mix of where I spend my time knowing it’s dynamic
- current model by expanding team and distributing tactical operations
- Improve my planning skills
- Improve my awareness of priorities
- Delegate more effectively (x6)
- Take time to strategically think about the tactical items occupying my time
- Tune in, turn off, tighten up
- Establish clarity (personally and with others)
- Maximize schedule
- Reduce time spent “firefighting”
- Leverage new staff
- Manage/protect time
- Set time expectations with team and partners
- Improve efficiency of reports to reduce the team/tactics burden
- Re-allocate some tactical workload to someone else
- Increase manning
- Relinquish some of my tactical duties
- Gradually shift time upward to team focus from think focus over next 90 days by 15-20%
- my tactical access management work to vendor support team
- Time will fix this through maturity of team
- Time – Progressively/gradually
- Use tools efficiently
- Distractions, churn and lack of roles and responsibilities defined within other teams.
- Define R&Rs and remove distractions
- I need to plan out my with enough time to pivot through unexpected situations
- To achieve personal development/growth and move allocations toward next hierarchy box
- Spend too much time on the business/strategy. I actually need to be more tactical!
- Work to the rhythm of the business and remain agile
- Get team members trained to take over tactical
- Disciplined time management
- Minimize travel
- Distractions have to stop along with clarity of roles and responsibilities of other teams so more time can be spent with the team.
- Delegate more tactical and focus on team-oriented goals and motivation/cohesion.
- Stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things. I’m currently doing the wrong things right!
- Organize the schedule
- Drive results
- Eradicate the root cause
- Hold others accountable for tactics
I hope their responses give you food for thought. As a leader, do you need to shift the mix of your time from less tactical time and more team and thinking time?
If you would like to discuss possibly holding a similar workshop for your own leadership team or complete your own copy of the Personal Time Worksheet, please email me at [email protected]