If you have read Nancy Klein’s work on Time to Think, you will know the importance placed on taking time out to make informed decisions, taking into account many more aspects than you might have originally done so.
When I was an Area Manager, I had worked very hard to create a united team and we were delivering great results. My team was working very hard and my role was to help them deliver their best. My wife even now, says that was the toughest job I ever did. Why? Well, many days I would get home from work and my wife would ask what I had eaten for lunch….I couldn’t remember. It was then that I would realise that I had missed lunch. In reality, I would have been out of the house from 6am, getting in at 9pm, remembering very little about food and drink.
It was after a regular meeting with my line manager that things changed. She was a very wise leader and I had a huge amount of respect for her. She explained that she was concerned about how I was achieving these great results. I couldn’t understand, was she implying I was being underhanded?? She then explained that she wanted me to take time to reflect. Reflect on what? I was asked to take two hours out every week, to sit and reflect. The ‘ask’ became an ‘order’.
As I sat in Starbucks with a blank page and pen in my hand, thinking how crazy this was. I had stores that needed my support, I was checking my phone and I couldn’t understand how this was helping my business. The same thing happened week after week. It wasn’t until the fourth week that things began to change. Maybe it was my acceptance that I was going to be sitting here reflecting week after week, so I might as well make the most of it.
6 years later, I haven’t stopped reflecting. It has been the most liberating experience of my working career. Taking time to make sense of the world around you, understanding what you were making things mean, and appreciating what else they could have meant. And how did this help me? I had gained a clarity in my thinking, I hadn’t achieved before. I gained a greater capacity to make very clear decisions, based upon understanding the impact of past decisions. What impact did I see in my business? Well, it was the first time since being an Area Manager that I began to work regular hours, eating better, making better decisions, feeling less stressed but more in control. Can you imagine what impact this might have had on my team? It was key to unlocking my potential.
What sort of leader are you right now? What sort of leader could you be???
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