The Advantages of Being Productive vs. Appearing Busy
If the burnout argument doesn’t convince you (and it should), here are three further reasons why CEOs should prioritize productivity over busy-ness
Everyone understands what the priorities are
‘If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any,’ Jim Collins famously stated in his book From Good to Great. He was making the point that your emphasis on a daily basis should be on the things that are vital at the time. Priorities are often misunderstood in many organizations, resulting in missed project deadlines, poor service levels, and managers resorting to using the CEO’s name as a priority weapon. CEOs who are clear on what is important can not only prioritize their own time and effort but also assist others to do the same.
Time is set aside to complete tasks
Knowing what’s important allows individuals – especially CEOs – to plan. They can deliberately set aside time to check in with staff, read documents, strategize, receive information, and create relationships with internal and external partners who are crucial to plan implementation. They can also schedule time for lunch, exercise, and personal growth. I’m now counseling a CEO, and the most significant change he’s made is to take regular breaks for food and to follow a daily cycle of exercise, which has resulted in increased productivity owing to the extra energy he has. He is now in a position to recommend (and perhaps insist!) that his managers do the same.
Health, happiness, and rich culture are all maintained
And food, exercise, and relaxation are critical components of all employees’ health and well-being, including CEOs. As is ensuring that they are able to bring their best self to work every day in an empathic and supportive workplace. Not one that wastes their valuable time by inundating them with emails or 30-/60-minute meetings that often lack context, organization, or a clear action plan. A psychologically secure culture does not emerge on its own.
Making time to reconnect and reset
Staff must be given dedicated time to recalibrate their expectations of one another and establish the groundwork for the strategy’s successful implementation. This is an opportunity to identify cultural norms that impede productivity and to agree on how to overcome them in the coming year.
Most CEOs recognize that, while being busy may appear to be vital, it is actually a lazy way of being. CEOs may make the most of their days by finding time to plan, create relationships, rest, recuperate, and act on goals. At that point, they might demand that their supervisors follow suit and become role models for productivity rather than busyness.