In the world of leadership coaching (often known as executive coaching), it is quite interesting to watch top decision makers in today’s world. Many of our “busy leaders” have a tendency to go on and on about all that they are doing…running here and there, putting out fires and living in reaction mode. As an executive coach, when I dig deeper, I often find out that what they are really spinning around about are the tiny details which truly should be reserved for someone on his team. During a coaching session, when I ask leaders how they spend their day, here are some of the most common “distractions” I hear about.
1. Checking email 8-10 times per day. The mother of all leadership sins!
Solution: Check email once in the morning at 9:00 a.m. (your time zone) and again at 4:30 p.m. If you are concerned about missing someone, simply enter an auto-responder into your email program which says “Thank you for your email. I usually check email at 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. If this is an emergency, you may call me at 555-555-5555 (put your telephone number in the blank).
2. Writing other people about typos on an email, website, a document or about subjects that are really not urgent.
Is this really your job, and did someone ask you to proofread their materials? Probably not. This job is usually reserved for a proofreader or an assistant in the marketing department. As someone who types really fast, I do my best to double check my typos and my mistakes, but I don’t invest hours each day on proofreading. If I want something proofread, I send it to someone at Roundtable Companies. I don’t comb every blog post, because it squelches my creativity, and I am someone who does send out typos (not on purpose) on occasion by email. If I make a mistake, I do my best to apologize for the inconvenience and correct my mistake. As a leader, if part of your job is to notify people about their typos, then go for it. But, I have found more often than not that this is never the job of a CEO. This is usually a job handled by the marketing or PR arm of the company. As a CEO, it is not your job to be the “internet police” and invest the majority of your day telling people that they have a typo on a page on their website or in an email.
This revolving door can honestly suck hours out of your day…sending jokes to your friends, watching videos online, reading blogs and articles that have nothing to do with your business or getting on video chat with friends. Set aside 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon to peruse two websites which are relevant to your business or target market. The week-ends can be reserved for looking at funny dog and cat pictures and videos on You Tube or .for video chat with friends and family.
4. Calling meetings on a daily basis that last for 1-3 hours.
5. Fixing broken technology.
I am just amazed at how many business owners and CEOs (who know very little about technology) who try to fix old, worn out, broken computers, servers and back up systems. Hey…here’s a novel thought…maybe it’s time to regroup and replace your technology with state of the art systems. If your computer is sluggish or if your phone continues to rattle with static, it’s time for an upgrade. If your technological devices are not working, you may be investing precious hours fixing broken equipment that is only going to break again. And…by all means, add an IT person to your team or outsource this job to someone who can fix your tech problems in a snap!
As a business owner, your job is to not only work in the business but on the business (famous quote by Michael Gerber). Working on the business does not include fixing your broken 1990 computer. For a true business owner or leader, working on the business includes (but is not limited to) the following (these are not in order of importance. These are in alphabetical order). It is up to you to decide what is most important and to rank these according to importance for your company:
- Addressing tough conversations (and not avoiding them)
- Addressing your own self development (it does not matter how high up you are in your organization or how powerful you think you might be…we all need to grow if we want to stay competitive in today’s world)
- Being a masterful coach
- Being a positive role model and ambassador for your company
- Being the first to bridge the gap across generations in your company
- Decision making when the decision moves to the top
- Delegating to others
- Developing boss/team/employee relationships
- Developing command and public speaking skills
- Driving innovation
- Improving efficiency and time management
- Inspiring teams and people
- Listening without interrupting
- Managing resources wisely
- Meeting with Centers of Influence
- Stepping up and standing for the use of state of the art technology and then delegating the use of technology to your Director of Information Technology
- Strategic planning
- Strengthening your communication skills so that everyone in your company is “on board” and know exactly what to do
- Thinking time to clear out the junk and the cobwebs
- Upholding the values and ethics of the company