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Three Things Productive Leaders Always Have on Their Calendar

Before we know it the holidays will be over and we’ll find ourselves thinking about 2016.  If you are a leader that wants to make a bigger impact in your organization, resolve to add these three habits.

1. Get to Know Your Customers Better- Sounds obvious, right?  Yet many of my clients only talk to customers when there is a problem.  Or they listen to what their marketing department tells them about their ” ideal target”.  No that either is bad, it’s that these types of interactions often lead to a limited perspective or wrong conclusion.

What I’m suggesting is regularly setting aside time to get to know your customers – what they need, their problems and how your product/service fits in their world.  Do site visits, join sales meetings or host them at conferences.  Take the feedback and insights and do something with it.

2. Regular and Frequent Conversations with Your Direct Reports - Note the word “conversations” versus meetings.  Most of us don’t need more meetings, but what we do need our stronger, more productive relationships.

Interactions that allow you to understand more about the people who work for you – what motivates them, what challenges them and how they view their contributions.  Hearing their stories (and sharing yours too) builds trust, a critical ingredient for successful outcomes.

Make it a point to schedule conversations… weekly, or bi-weekly. If this hasn’t been your habit you may need to position it positively. Call it a  “regular effort  to be more engaged”.  If you already meet consistently but you are all business, make it a point to be more conversational. Ask a high value question like, ” how can I do a better job of supporting you?” or ” what are some things you’d like me to know about you?”.

3. Unschedule Yourself - Ahh, white space.  Also known as margin.  It may seem counter intuitive if one defines productive as “more (fill in the blank) is better”.   However, regular downtime is a key component of productivity.  Physiologically and mentally, our brain needs it.

I regularly repeat the  mantra, ” the more I slow down the faster I go, ” and you know what, it’s true.

Unscheduled time creates the gap in one’s workday that allows you to regroup, focus if you’ve become side-tracked or just take a few deep breaths. Better yet, take a walk or even a nap (lots of famous leaders did that too!) I recommend to clients that they shoot for 20% margin each day.

Whether you add all three or just one – I’m betting you’ll reap rewards!