I’ve always been amazed at the number of tremendously gifted leaders who underutilize the one asset most responsible for their success – their brain. It’s not that leaders don’t think; it’s that they don’t think enough. And when they do find time to think, many leaders often think about the wrong things, in the wrong ways, at the wrong times. My message is simple, but not necessarily easy; to do more – think more.
Most businesses have devolved into an execution culture where getting things done is valued above all else. Too many companies wrongly confuse a strong work ethic and “getting stuff done” with accomplishing the right outcomes – they are not always one in the same. Doing for the sake of doing just adds to the noise and creates more chaos. By contrast good leadership (and good thinking) quiets the noise by providing great clarity.
I believe it was Einstein who said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solution.” The prescriptive rationale behind Einstein’s example is that he did NOTHING without great amounts of rigorous thought preceding any action.
In my recently released book, Hacking Leadership (Wiley), I use the all too common story of an average executive in today’s business world to prove my point – someone who goes from meeting to meeting all day long only to look forward to going home at night so they can actually get some work done. Sound familiar? Sadly, many organizations have to keep growing headcount to compensate for the lack of productivity of those who are doing too much and accomplishing too little.
The best leaders are those who realize true scale only occurs in organizations that value great thinking. Astute leaders are those who understand that too much collaboration, too early on in the process results in little more than scaling the amount of organizational time wasted. Gifted leaders recognize the best collaborations occur intentionally and with great purpose only after planned periods of isolation used for self-reflection, introspection, and critical thought.
Accomplished leaders have matured to not only value their personal whitespace, but they have made the creation of whitespace a core value and a cultural imperative serving as a cornerstone for organizational design. What’s the use of having really smart, talented people if you don’t allow them any time for immersive creative thinking and problem solving?
Pushing people hard isn’t leading – it’s a misuse of authority. Brilliant leadership, on the other hand, helps people discover how to maximize their giftedness in a manner that causes them to push themselves to new heights.
Know this; doing doesn’t scale an organization, but thinking certainly does. The greatest form of intellectual property any organization can harness is the aggregate intellectual capital of their workforce.
Don’t be the leader who sentences gifted people to the mind numbing routine of preparing useless PowerPoint decks, attending too many ill-conceived meetings, and completing huge volumes of busy work. Be the leader who gives permission to create personal, team and organizational leverage by fostering a culture who values whitespace.
To do more – think more.
This article originally appeared at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140321182022-6114632-leaders-who-think-more-accomplish-more?trk=mp-reader-card