Too Many Managers And Leaders Are Operating In “Mind Full” Mode Too Often
Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal hit the nail on the head in their Harvard Business Review article Beware the Busy Manager. A major conclusion from their ten years of studying the behaviors of busy managers in nearly a dozen large companies is that, “Very few managers use their time as effectively as they could. They think they are attending to pressing matters, but they are really just spinning their wheels.”
Now that is truly being derailed, especially for more senior leaders and executives. In fact, according to Bruch and Ghoshal, “Fully 90% of managers squander their time in all sorts of ineffective activities. In other words, a mere 10% of managers spend their time in a committed, purposeful, and reflective manner.” Committed, purposeful, and reflective are, along with fully focused and attentive, the core essences of being a mindful leader.
These are frightening numbers. And, in my experience, they are equally true in medium-sized organizations, small businesses, and even non-profit entities. Everyone is so busy running around getting “stuff” done, and constantly interrupting each other in the guise of communication and collaboration, that leaders and managers are left without sufficient time and energy for reflection, innovative thinking, exploring out-of-the-box options, and creating purposeful action.
That, combined with a focus on quarterly results and yearly performance goals, negates the opportunity for innovative thinking and ideas that might create long-term, sustainable success for the organization and its people. Instead, in many organizations leaders only have time to tackle short-term projects and continue to run on autopilot mode until the next crisis smacks them in the organizational face.
As a result, the juggling leaders of today make rapid-fire decisions based on previous experiences or situations, even when the data, market conditions, and competitive initiatives require new solutions and ideas. Even if leaders found the time for innovative and out-of-the-box thinking, chances are their brains are too fried and exhausted to fully engage in such high-quality cognitive pursuits.
In summary, too many leaders are operating in mind full mode too often. This is causing poor thinking, unnecessary worries, overloaded brains, reduced cognitive functioning, drops in self-confidence, and an inability to focus and pay attention.
Fortunately, all these ailments are fixable through mindfulness practices. Which is why leaders need to learn to shift from “mind full” autopilot mode into mindful leadership behaviors.
This article is excerpted from my recent book Better Decisions Better Thinking Better Outcomes: How to go from Mind Full to Mindful Leadership, available on Amazon in both paperback ($18.88) and Kindle ($7.88) formats. (Note: prices increase on February 4, 2019)