Good leaders know that busy is not the same as productive

A key trait of a successful leader is that they get things done. Among other reasons, leaders reach their place in an organization because people perceive that they get things done or have the ability to do so.

Many people believe being busy is a badge of honor and respect, but in reality all that really matters is what you accomplish. It’s easy to opt for the “busy” path because everything about it is easier than the path to productivity. Being busy often requires more manpower but less mind power. The tasks that are usually the hardest yet result in accomplishing important matters are the ones where there are no apparent answers. There is an uncomfortable feeling of not knowing where you are heading and this often drives us away from those important tasks.

Some helpful reminders of how we can be more productive than busy:

  • Evaluate whether a task truly requires your time commitment. Is it going to add value commensurate with your investment? Could others tackle the project?
  • Stop worrying about getting all the details right. They can be dealt with later.
  • Busy people try to do everything themselves—trust others and delegate.
  • Say no more often. Use your time more judiciously.
  • Better utilize your calendar to block off time to work on important matters.
  • Reduce and manage distractions—e-mails, phone calls, drop in visits.
  • At the end of every day evaluate where you spent your time and what you accomplished, and judge whether the accomplishments were a good use of your time.

Leaders make organizations thrive and grow, and they provide opportunities for all team members. As leaders, we need to focus on the value-added, difficult tasks and let others handle the less critical tasks. Many leaders say they are too busy to get to the important matters (developing new products, letting an underperforming team member go, re-engineering key processes, etc.). Remember, being busy is not an excuse; productive leaders find ways to free up their time. Step back at the end of the week and evaluate how you spent your time. How are you doing?

Stephen W. Christian, CPAStephen W. Christian is a director at Kreischer Miller. Contact him at Email or 215.441.4600. 




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