The Advancing Leadership Blog

Get Off Your Treadmill

by TEC Chair, Greg Hadubiak

For those who know me well, the title of this blog entry might seem at odds with the lifestyle I’ve tried to fashion for myself over the past five years or so – two Ironman Canada finishes, variety of other smaller distance triathlons, and up to 2 workouts a day.  But sometimes, there is a real need to re-evaluate progress, goals, and the processes you are using to achieve results.  Sometimes, you have to get off the treadmill, dismount from your bike, and step back from the pool to objectively assess status in order to reach your desired level of performance.

The same is true in your leadership journey.  In my one-to-one coaching sessions and team development engagements, I often find myself working with my clients to help them carve out time for them to step back and critically evaluate and reengage with the fundamental core of their roles, vocations and business.  Almost without exception they lament their lack of time as they face the impossible task of juggling all the “priorities” being thrown at them, all the urgent issues requiring their attention, and all the stillborn and “critical” initiatives they believe they must tackle.

In most cases, individual leaders try to address this by simply extending their work week.  In essence, however, this extended effort typically does not leave us any more satisfied with our workload then when we started.  Rather, we find ourselves on “the treadmill” and rather than effectively using our creative talents and ingenuity as leaders – utilizing the brainpower and capabilities for which we were selected – we are far more often engaged in a pure test of our stamina.  At this point, as leaders, we have to question whether we are truly leading.  Are we running an organization or is our organization running us?
The same dynamic plays out for leadership teams as well.  The frustration that exists for individual leaders may look different for a team – competing priorities, lack of collaboration, competition for resources, and conflict – but in reality it comes from some of the same sources.  Teams have not taken the time to step back to critically re-evaluate the nature of the work they are doing, how that fits in with a bigger picture of organizational success, and what truly is a critical priority for success in the coming month, quarter and year.

So what’s the solution to this time press?  Ironically enough it’s having the courage to step back from the coal face of work long enough to gain some perspective.  As I described at the beginning of this entry, I often engage with my clients to establish a structured approach to setting aside protected time on a regular basis to simply evaluate and take stock of their work.  This time has to be established as sacred and critical to the leader (or a team as the case may be).  It has to be focused and uninterrupted time.  Consider this time as important as any non-negotiable event in your calendar – meeting with your Board of Directors, meeting with your boss, a major presentation to your professional peers.  You can’t defer or neglect these kinds of events.  You wouldn’t be asking your Board Chair/Boss to be excused from your once per month meeting while you take a series of phone calls.  You need to make the same kind of commitment to yourself as a leader or a team to effectively evaluate your current status and future effort

Your future success as a leader is NOT going to be predicated on your stamina or ability to endure.  You have been selected to lead your organization for the quality of your decision-making, for your ability to discern key factors and information in a chaotic environment, and for your ability to focus organizational effort on common goals.  You can’t do this if you don’t exercise personal leadership and discipline.  Be deliberate and strong with yourself to stay in charge of your business – don’t let your business run you.  Be decisive and courageous enough to take time for yourself and to truly discern where your leadership is going to make the biggest difference.  Taking that time is going to be one of biggest tests of your leadership.

Do you have the courage to step off the treadmill if even only for a little while?

As a Certified Executive Coach and Management Consultant, Greg brings to bear over 25 years of senior level experience – and passion – to the benefit of his clients. Greg brings to his work extensive, broad-ranging, senior level experience and insight to leaders and aspiring leaders in a variety of industry sectors. Greg is a Certified Executive Coach and is a member of the International Coach Federation. His academic preparation also includes a Bachelor’s Degree with a major in Health Care Administration, a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration, and certification as a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. He also maintains membership in the Canadian College of Health Leaders. Greg also runs the It’s About Leadership Blog.

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