Thoughtful leadership – it’s a term we have coined to describe the skills and principles of “thought-centered” leadership – personal reflection, self-awareness, strategic thinking, focus, and commitment. It’s moving from an “I’m so busy, I can hardly think” multi-tasking, rush-to-the-next-meeting mentality to one that says “I’m so busy, it’s time to slow it down, sharpen focus, and think.”
Julius Caesar said it well – “Go slow to go fast.” Heralded as a brilliant leader and military strategist, Caesar understood that sometimes the way to really drive momentum and attain victory is to go slow, plan, and proceed thought-fully, enabling you to move ahead faster and more effectively. This philosophy is a great lesson for today’s leaders, even though it may seem counterintuitive. Everything in our work lives today is about speed – instant access, fast pace, staying ahead, 24/7 availability, “I need it yesterday”. Whew! Have thinking and planning become a lost art? Here are five ways to inject thoughtful leadership back into your hectic schedule:
- Stroll the halls – If you’re someone who spends most of the day holed up in your office or conference rooms, take time to walk around and talk to the people you rarely take the time to. Their perspectives and insights may be just the thing you need to see an issue or idea in a new light.
- Stop talking and listen – It’s amazing what you can learn and what new ideas and opportunities surface when you decide to listen to others rather than taking up most of the air time.
- Make planning time sacrosanct – Steven Covey’s Important/Urgent matrix showed us that we often forgo important tasks like planning and personal development for urgent tasks like responding to email and handling interruptions. Thoughtful leadership requires that you take the time to reflect and plan – without interruption or distraction. That means moving planning from a “nice to do” to a “must do” on your list of priorities.
- Find a partner – In our learning programs, we often assign “accountability partners” so that participants have someone that can help keep them on track, hold them accountable, and provide mutual support for achieving goals. Identifying someone who also wants to be more thought-ful in his or her leadership will help you feel like you are going it alone, and will also compel you to make the changes and take the actions that are necessary.
- Take time off – Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” That says it all. Step away to see things more clearly.
In what ways do you ensure necessary thinking and planning time for yourself? Share your ideas with us.