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Executive Voice

Using Time Strategically And Uncovering Our Unconscious Motivations

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. 

– Carl Sandburg, American Poet and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer

Learn To Be Willing To Let Go

Usually, as a leader grows in responsibility, so do the constraints on their time. Meetings, emails, and other professional engagements fill every waking moment, and invariably dominate other aspects of life. 

In a study involving over 1500 leaders, only a small fraction (about 9%) reported high-satisfaction levels with their time-allocation on issues related to strategic direction and oversight for their organizations. 

In many cases, as leaders ascend to positions of high-authority, and influence within organizations, they consistently deploy niche expertise to a wide gamut of tactical, and operational issues even when these problems lie outside their scope of responsibility. 

Perhaps advertising agencies are widely valuable simply because they create a culture in which it is acceptable to ask outlandish questions and make ridiculous suggestions. 

Learn To Be Willing To Let Others Grow

In a recent multi-year investigation involving thirty-nine (39) companies, in eight (8) different industries over a three (3) year period, it was discovered that managers spent a whopping forty-one percent (41%) of their time on tasks, and processes that could be otherwise, easily delegated. 

Because many top-level executives are extremely conscientious, micro-management and process-bottlenecking is often the default approach to problem-solving even when there are obvious, counter-productive consequences.   

Besides, many leaders’ focus on justifying, and over-emphasizing historical results that can negatively impact the organization’s ability to attain new, crucial skills and foster a viable stream of managers who can, and should be executing these functions. 

Strategic Intent Is The ‘Secret Sauce’ Of The Top Exec’s

As leaders adopt more responsibility for organizational success (usually by virtue of excellent performance in other roles), they must adapt to the demands of deep, strategic fore-thought in intelligent delegation, and resource allocation. 

The Chief Executive of Linkedin Inc., Jeffrey Weiner makes a salient point in the section below;

There will always be a need to get things done and knock another To-Do item off the list. However, as the company grows larger, as the breadth and depth of your initiatives expand, and as the competitive and technological landscape continues to shift at an accelerating rate – you will require more time than ever before to just think. That thinking, if done properly, requires uninterrupted focus… In other words, it takes time. And that time will only be available if you carve it out for yourself. 

In exploring the rampant lack of strategic thinking time among business leaders, about sixty-six percent (66%) – roughly two-thirds,  attested to their preoccupation with the “daily battles” in a survey of 377 executives of the least-performing companies by an Economic Intelligence Unit.  

Should your team become so busy with daily tasks, that thinking about the strategic direction of the business relative to its competitive environment is relegated permanently, it’s wise to anticipate disaster. 

Elon Musk, Chief Visionary for Tesla, SpaceX, and Neuralink among others, states this perfectly in his assertion that “The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking.”

Although charismatic leaders can incite action with their words, only through their actions can they sustain the levels of employee commitment necessary to induce organizational success in the long-run. 

As Gary Vee says “Executing is better than pondering” but without strategic intent in your direction, there is no destination. If the appropriate foundation isn’t laid then how do you know what to benchmark and chalk up your wins and losses to every quarter?

Before You Go, Write These Questions Down And Answer Them Quarterly

Certain questions are relevant with regards to stakeholder priority-alignment within your business enterprise. They include; 

  • What core-objectives motivate behaviour within other teams in our organisation?
  • Do our core-objectives align with other teams in our organisation?
  • Do we know what our key customers consider to be most important?
  • Are we sufficiently aware of our key customers’ most significant pain points?
  • What actions can align our outcomes with solving our customers’ existing pain points?
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