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How to Use Your Time Wisely as a Leader
As the only truly limited resource we have in life, time is a precious commodity. Learning to manage it well is a fundamental leadership skill that requires practice, inspiration, and dedication. Great leaders always have time because they know how to delegate, narrow their focus, and make quick decisions.
Time is the ultimate resource. Of everything else, we can make more. We can mine more gold, print more money, and build taller buildings, but we can never make more time. The moment we’re born, our time on this planet is limited. What we do with it depends entirely on us. We can choose to invest it meaningfully and make a difference by helping others, or we can waste it.
How leaders use their time tells us a lot about how effective and successful they are and how much potential they have.
Time is the ultimate resource.
From the perspective of leadership coaching, leaders invest their time in three essential ways.
- Reflecting on the past and drawing inspiration from their reservoir of positive references
- Focusing on their current obligations and handling day-to-day business, including change management
- Dreaming about the future and thinking about implementing changes that give organizations edges over their competitors
Each of these time-wise investments is essential. Intelligent leaders cannot afford to neglect any of them. We are all humans, however, and we all tend to have preferences. Some leaders are great at managing current affairs. Others are visionaries who live in the future. When we’re good at something, we prefer to spend more time performing that action.
Reflecting on the Past
Mature leaders understand the importance of building a reservoir of positive leadership experiences. Those who don’t have experience can create a reservoir of vicarious experiences and use their mentors as references.
Intelligent leaders also value the lessons failures can teach them. Analyzing failures and drawing conclusions is as important as taking time to celebrate success.
Dwelling on the past can be beneficial, but leadership coaching professionals understand its limitations.
Focusing on the Present
Creative leaders may find themselves caught in the lure of the future. Taking care of the immediate needs of the organization is also the leader’s responsibility, however.
Mundane tasks and established procedures may not be interesting, but they’re necessary. Catching up with coworkers and actively nurturing an organization’s culture amount to more than holding down the fort. Teams require the presence and input of their leaders, not to mention the inspiration they provide.
Forward-looking leaders are more concerned about what’s next than what’s happening now. They must strike a balance that allows them to address the current needs of their organizations while flirting with the future and the opportunities it may deliver.
Dreaming About the Future
Leaders are champions of change. Executive coaching is aware they must all have compelling future visions. For a leader, dreaming about the future is not optional.
Some leaders are natural dreamers and visionaries. To them, it’s natural to create and mentally explore grand visions of the future. To others, it may be more difficult.
Leaders must dream about the future because no one else will.
Executive coaching can help leaders who struggle with dreaming about the future. A coach can work with the leader to set up a schedule and an action plan for making meaningful mental forays into possible and impossible future scenarios.
Interacting with other creative leaders and brainstorming are also options.
Why Do Successful Leaders Always Have Time?
Great leaders don’t have more time than others. We all have 24 hours in a day. However, they’ve adopted leadership behaviors that conserve their time and invest it into ventures that make the most significant impacts. How can you develop such behaviors?
- Learn to delegate. You don’t have to be a business coaching specialist to know allocating the right tasks to the right people is essential for sustainable growth.
- Narrow your focus. When you focus on fewer issues, you’ll boost your efficiency. If you pick the right issues to focus on, you’ll also elevate your leadership impact.
- Make quick decisions. Decision-making is a key leadership skill. The more you do it, the better and quicker you’ll be at it.
Time management is a fundamental leadership issue we all encounter in life. Those who can manage their ultimate resource better emerge as winners in life and in leadership.