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5 ways for leaders to spend more time thinking

What’s the leader’s role?

There’s no doubt that the further a person crawls up the corporate ladder, they should be spending more time thinking and less time doing. It’s a very important mindset to understand that thinking is not doing nothing. It might not seem like you’re busy but it’s an essential part of a leader’s role.

We don’t need to be ‘busy’ in order to think we are progressing or accomplishing something. Have you noticed how many people’s response to “How are things going?” is simply, “Busy!”. Why isn’t it something like, “Very well, thank you”?

If you are running an organization, there will always be another meeting to attend or place to be. However, a major role of a CEO or senior manager is to think and reflect, consider and adapt. If you’re too busy to think, you probably haven’t organized your team very well. You might not be able to control everything that happens but you can choose what you give your attention to. A manager I knew took a regular one hour lunch break where they thought about their afternoon and that’s where all the planning took place.

The Strategic Thinking Institute found through their research that 44% of managers spent most of their time firefighting in cultures that rewarded reactivity and discouraged thoughtfulness. 96% of leaders said they lacked time for strategic thinking because they were too busy putting out fires.

5 Tips

So, here are five things you can do to create thinking time:

    1. Schedule it in your calendar – just as you would schedule a meeting. Block regular time out to be alone and think things through, reflect and consider what’s most important
    2. Start your scheduling with something manageable like 10-20 minutes. That’s surely doable. Smokers can do that regularly!
    3. Make notes of ideas that come when you are doing something else. Inspiration comes often at times when your mind is relaxed like in the shower or while driving. As soon as you can, when it’s safe and convenient, make a note to capture those thoughts and return to them during a scheduled thinking slot.
    4. You can’t force inspiration but you can reflect on what is already on your mind. You might need to stimulate thinking by reading an article, reviewing the organisational business plan or strategy or even think about your team. Who’s doing what? Who needs help? Who haven’t you spoken to lately?
    5. Think out loud. If you’re the kind of person that likes to think by sharing, then ask someone to join you. Spout ideas and brainstorm with them. Just bounce some ideas around and see what happens.

For more details check out leadership courses from LearningPlanet in the OpenSesame course catalog.

About the Author:

Derek Good has been in leadership roles for over 25 years and since 2002 has been involved in corporate training and consulting. He has won Awards for Customer Service Excellence and innovation for general education and is the author of seven books.

Derek Good - LearningPlaner


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