The Secret to Growth Create the Space to Lead-01

The Secret to Growth: Create the Space to Lead

Being a business leader has become an all-work-all-the-time commitment. Full calendars, on call 24/7, endless emails, texts, voicemails and a relentlessly ringing cell phone are just the tip of your weekly iceberg. Only you’re the one heading for a meltdown.

That doesn’t even include those inevitable unexpected issues, which aren’t on your daily planner. Not to mention time for family, friends, your pet, eating, thinking and unwinding. Do you ever get the feeling you’re just the head hamster running around a non-stop wheel trying to keep up with work instead of actually leading it?

You’re worn out from long days that blur together. You feel guilty when you can’t respond to everything that needs your attention, which is pretty much everything. You make early morning calls driving to work and field late ones on your way home. In between meetings, your assistant books calls around your other calls. Even with all your good intentions, spending your time filling your time — and your peoples’ time — may not translate into ROI. It’s time to reset your leadership watch.

Ironically, sometimes advances can leave you further behind.

Technology has given us many advantages, but what has it taken away? Time used to open space for creative ideas and problem-solving breakthroughs. Having no time to think can’t possibly be the solution to thinking clearly for leaders. Warren Buffett once said, “In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.” Sometimes, you need to think about what you’ve done, not what you’re going to do. When did you last look in the mirror and take a moment to reflect?

Be the architect of your own leadership space.

The most effective business leaders plan their schedules and include time to lead…

“I probably have traveled and walked into more variety stores than anybody in America. I am just trying to get ideas, any kind of ideas that will help our company. Most of us don’t invent ideas. We take the best ideas from someone else.” – Sam Walton

Sam’s leadership approach to running Walmart included management by walking around.

He knew he could learn more about his business by listening to his people. As a result, he also knew what was selling and how his stores were doing by talking to his truck drivers.

What if you didn’t fill your calendar?

Some great business leaders today stay more focused by taking things off their calendar. They have To Do Lists and Don’t Do Lists. Everyone needs downtime. It’s what allows you to recharge so you can breed, seed and feed creativity. Downtime opens space for business leadership while 24/7 business narrows it.

Most leaders are obsessed with moving things forward. Yet after the flurry of activity, many discover that very little forward progress was made. Busy work doesn’t always translate to business growth. Meetings don’t always result in action. Racing everywhere at full speed doesn’t guarantee you’ll get to the finish line first. However, it may cause you to miss your bottom line and lose out on the think time required to uncover innovative ideas that grows the top line.

There’s no room for anyone to operate when leadership style is cramped.

Your people follow your lead. Instead of taking over their calendars, clear the clutter and create more room for them — and you — to lead. You’ll find that everyone will spend a lot less time everyday describing work and actually doing it.

Bio_rose2Rose is the CEO at fassforward consulting group. She blogs about Leadership, Change, Culture and Chocolate Conversations at

You can follow her on twitter @rosefass.

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