Why Great Leaders Get Distracted

Why great leaders get distractedForget about the 8-hour work day. There are so many interruptions that you can’t get 8 hours of actual work done. At times all you want is a little peace from these distractions and a way to unwind and regain mental clarity. But business leaders are faced with the fact that technology is taking over their lives. Most executives get more emails than they can ever keep up with. Phone calls, social media, data issues, documentation, and other routine activities are demanding attention on top of worries about health, taxes, insurance, even alligators in the pool- the anxiety-building issues we all have to deal with on top of work-related stress.

Top distractors for good leaders:

* No matter how important items on your own agenda are, everybody else’s problems suddenly become urgent.
* Great – and not-so-great – ideas that build excitement in your team members become like bright shiny objects that demand everyone’s attention.
* Too many meetings – it seems like nothing gets done when everyone is expected to give input on every issue that comes along.
* Struggling to stay ahead of the competition can get you too caught up in what they’re doing.
* Company strategy keeps getting so much broader and more detailed that it becomes difficult to interpret.
* Fatigue – you know you should take care of yourself and get rested, but stress and anxiety about what’s happening at the office make sleep even harder.

A bigger problem

If you’re overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Everyone believed that technology would bring more efficiency and therefore create more leisure time for each of us. The opposite has happened—it has simply sped up the world and created less time.

To really catch your breath, you need to get away from all messaging devices periodically so you can think.

Distractions could mean mistakes, oversights, and miscommunications on top of a major barrier to productivity toward your ultimate goal. Thousands of executives are in the same boat, and doubtless within your own company, as well. That could add up to millions or even billions of dollars a year in revenue lost through simple lack of progress. Delays mean missed deadlines, lower quality of results, and higher costs, and so lead to more emails, phone calls, and meetings.

How to bring it in and focus

* Prioritize – decide what matters most toward execution of your goals and strategy.
* Ideas that don’t fit your core strategy should be rejected – let them be filed for future reference.
* Never lose sight of customer satisfaction – regularly review expectations and seek feedback.
* Use data-driven analytics to spot catalysts for change, not hunches or guesstimates.
* Document progress and discuss core strategy, including competitive differences, with your team. Make certain each member understands your strategy and remains just as focused as you are.
* Allow yourself a decent night’s sleep and a little time to relax. You’ll likely get more done if your energy is up.
* Practice self-discipline through time management – devise a realistic schedule that also allows a little leeway, and stick with it.
* Learn to relax – develop a mantra, a happy place, a pleasant thought, or whatever it takes to turn each precious quiet moment into a profoundly relaxing moment.
* Stay organized – when things get overwhelming, step back and find a productive way to release tension. Organize your papers, review your notes, clean your desk, and anything else that clears your head and allows you the chance to get a fresh start.

Who’s doing it well

Throughout the ups and downs resulting from the changing executive leadership at Chico’s, it’s clear that when they weren’t focused on strategy, business was down. CEOs that had the most success with the company were those focused on selling the unique clothing that baby boomer women shoppers are looking for. Business trends are related directly to the level of focus on a good, clear strategy. Eliminating distractions makes it that much easier to stay focused!

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