As a leader, what is 33 percent of your time worth? The Creative Group published a study that cited 33 percent as a benchmark for the amount of time executives spend solving problems and fighting crises. In my words: looking backwards.
As you set your company and department resolutions for 2015, I want you to exclude four months of your available time for developing new business, increasing revenue, and adding value to your products because you will spend it solving problems and fighting crises – looking backwards. Last month I had the opportunity to speak with a group of leaders from Boston Financial at the company’s semi-annual manager’s meeting. As a former employee of Boston Financial, I was honored, flattered and excited to talk to this group at the height of their 2015 planning. I had a great experience during my time at Boston Financial, and now after a few decades of military service, I felt I was able to give back in a meaningful manner. Politics aside, many will agree there is no organization better at planning, executing and making decisions in fluid, dynamic, and often, violent situations than the Marine Corps and Special Operations Community. Because of this, I was able to offer Boston Financial leaders three military leadership methods to increase effective decision-making in the organization and gain back 33 percent of lost time in 2015.
First – Commander’s Intent.
As the leader, you are responsible for defining the goals and objectives of your organization. If you want to operate at Steven Covey’s speed of trust, do not micro-manage your team. Tell them everything but the “how.” Build in a disciplined planning and intra-communication process to ensure you are kept abreast of the process and to ensure your goals are being met. Empower them, lead them, but stay out of their way.
Second – the LEADER planning process.
After you deliver your “Commander’s Intent,” you want to ensure the plan and process your team develops will actually get you there. In the military, through a six-step planning process, we demand our subordinates offer three different solutions where each solution is feasible and unique, yet achieves the same result. By sourcing multiple solutions, the leader is no longer a problem solver but a decision-maker. Leaders maximize their personal time by leveraging their wisdom, experience, and judgment on well thought out, clear, concise, and distinct solutions, while not being part of the problem-solving team.
Through the issuance of “Commander’s Intent” and the implementation of a disciplined communication process, the leadership in your organization will gain back much of the cited 33 percent of lost time. Simultaneously, this approach will develop employees to think at a management level one to two levels higher than themselves. The power of having employees think and act in that manner is self-evident. But you can’t just direct innovation; it needs to be inspired from the top down.
Third – innovative cultures.
You can’t innovate on Wednesday. Innovation has to be inspired and affirmed starting with the senior leadership and embraced at every level throughout the organization. Inspiring an innovative culture begins with recognition for the minor improvements and implementations that associates make on a regular basis. If associates know that their actions to improve the workplace and businesses processes are validated, it will inspire them to continually seek ways to give back and advance the organization. In order to increase loyalty, reduce sick leave, and improve morale, get out from behind your computers and smart-phones, walk around the organization, and thank people by name.
Do you want to increase organizational focus, speed of implementation, decision-making, execution, and employee loyalty? Do you want your organization to be innovative and transformational as it prepares for the challenges of the 21st Century? The implementation of these three techniques will certainly set you on the right path. My gift to you in 2015: 33 percent of your time back.
To read more about John’s talk at the Boston Financial Manager’s Meeting visit: When Crazy Ideas Move Forward