Leaders Set the Example

A friend and client, John Horan, forwarded a Harvard Business Review article to me: Leading Teams: If You Multitask During Meetings, Your Team Will, Too. I found it interesting and right on!  I think we each occasionally find ourselves guilty of the sins noted in this article and setting a bad example for our team.  Take a few minutes to read the article. Then think about it, and then find ways to take small steps and make small changes to set the example for your co-workers, direct reports and peers!

Here are some highlights from the article:

  • The more senior (years and position) we become in an organization, the more influence and impact we have on others – the ripple effect amplifies!
  • Self-awareness comes into play – take time to reflect and ask yourself the questions below – be honest!

Common Examples that Have a Negative Ripple Effect

Working after hours – I am guilty of this one! 

(Note:  I used the delayed delivery option so this would go out on Monday afternoon instead of Sunday night!)

  • Sending emails at night is a problem (study in the article looked at Sunday evening – very interesting research, check it out!)
  • Most direct reports want to respond immediately to their superiors
  • In a survey, 48% of people said that work interferes with their family/personal time – no wonder our society is dealing with a burn-out challenge!

What to do?

  • Talk with your team – set expectations and make agreements
  • If you choose to process emails at night, set them to go out in the morning (real work hours)
  • Minimize the number on your distribution lists (review and reduce)

Multi-Tasking in Meetings

  • Biggest Challenge?  Sends a message to everyone in that meeting, that says “It’s ok not to pay attention.”
  • Multi-tasking is a choice or a habit not a necessity!  Unfortunately, a lot of us use excuses to justify multi-tasking!
  • Research shows multi-tasking is task switching, our brain is truly only capable of focusing on one item/task at a time.
  • If we choose to multi-task during a meeting, we then have gaps from the information being shared, which eventually shows up, becomes a challenge or even during that meeting, a question is asked about what was just covered and wastes time in the meeting for all who are attending!

What to do?

  • For a week or two, monitor/note when you multi task and why you have chosen to multitask
  • Ask to be removed from meetings that are not necessary, or ask the meeting to be time blocked so your issues are covered quickly and you can leave.
  • Convert 60 minute meetings to 45 minute meetings – creates more focused discussions and gives everyone time to answer their emails once the meeting has ended.
  • Cluster your meeting time so there are solid chunks of time to get your work done. Take time to discuss with your staff members and make agreements

Questions to ask ourselves:  Self-Assessment

  • What work habits do I have that are impacting my team in a negative way?
  • How are these habits impacting others? 
  • What can I do to change these habits?  
  • How can I create a multi-tasking free zone during meetings?
  • How can I be the example for being present?

In addition, studies have shown that multi-tasking increases stress levels.  Being fully present and focusing on the tasks at hand lowers stress levels and is more effective for you and everyone around you. 

Book links:

How to Lead an Effective Meeting (and get the results you want) by Dick Massimilian

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

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