"Good Morning. How's your day going?" I asked.
"It's been such a hectic day, and I've not gotten much done. I've been busy doing HR stuff all morning!"
"Really, tell me about your day so far."
"Well, I had an interview this morning, then met with an employee to discuss an issue, completed a few performance review discussions, held a team meeting, and now I am here meeting with you in HR."
I looked and him with a sly grin and said, "Oh, you've been doing leadership stuff all day."
I get it. As leaders, you have a list, and it seems that no matter how hard or efficiently you work, it never ends. However, no matter the length of your list, if you sit in a leadership seat, perhaps it is time to reconsider how you prioritize and categorize your day.
Like the leader I chatted with on that bright sunny morning, you can think of the time you spend with your team as "HR stuff." Or you can shift your perspective and see it as a critical investment that you make in the individuals you are privileged to lead to achieve your plans and strategic goals. If you want to take it one step further, you can also see it as an investment that will impact the quality of their lives.
Every person you lead brings value, and every person you lead needs investment 100% of the time. When I say 100% of the time, I am not suggesting that they need you to spend time with them every second of your day. However, I am offering that 100% of the people you lead need your time and investment to work effectively.
In my research, I have found that only one-third of leaders are comfortable with the time they spend with team members, and only 48% of leaders have regular ongoing discussions about projects issues and performance.
So what do we do when there are often more things to do than hours in the day? Take some time to evaluate how you spend your time. Research shows that employees who connect with their managers and receive support for their development are more productive and more engaged. In my experience, I have seen this play out firsthand again and again. In the end, It all comes down to are willing to prioritize our to-do list differently?
I believe that the investments we make in people if navigated thoughtfully, intentionally, and strategically can become a catalyst for more productivity instead of less. It's a topic that I cover with leaders in my programs because, in the long run, if we can prioritize our connection time, our people will be more engaged and productive.
As leaders, your action or inaction with people can change the destiny of those you lead and impact your results.
So as you plan your week, your quarter, your year, create an intentional connection plan and then invest the time. Then shift your thinking just a bit and think about our time with people not as HR work but as investments you make in people and productivity. I promise you will get better results when you invest 100% of the time.
Want to explore a few ways to invest in your leadership? Take the What's Your Next Level of Leadership quiz here. As you complete it, spend some time thinking about one change you can make today to invest in your team. I promise it will make a difference 100% of the time.
Leah JM Dean is a leadership strategist, tribe formation expert, certified strengths coach, best-selling author, facilitator, speaker, and founder of the women’s leadership program, the Tribe Advantage. She is on a mission to help women and organizations all across the globe transform their tribes in life and leadership. To learn more about Leah's work, her best-selling book Assemble the Tribe, or join The Tribe Advantage Leadership Program, visit www.leahjmdean.com. Leah lives in Bermuda with her husband and two children.