The start of a new year is a good time to think about how you and your team are spending your time at work. If you want to make a difference in your organisation and have a team that makes progress, it’s important to consider the meaning of time.
Gear up for a strong 2017 by reading the full article on the Leaderonomics website.
The start of a new year is a good time to think about how you and your team are spending your time at work. As American author Henry David Thoreau said:
It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?
If you want to make a difference in your organisation and have a team that makes progress, it’s important to consider the meaning of time.
People often use money as a metaphor for time. The logic is that once time has been spent, you can’t get it back. And you can’t spend “future” time – because you can’t spend what you don’t have.
If you follow that line of reasoning, it’s the present that you should be most concerned with. Why? Because it is only the present time that you can be certain you have.
However, that’s really not the case. To thrive in today’s complex working environment, leaders need to consider all three aspects of time – the past, the present and the future.
Reflecting on the past helps with learning. Thinking about the future helps with goal-setting. Being present and using your time wisely helps advance you towards those goals.
Ask yourself and your team members:
- Which of these elements do you spend the most time on?
- Are you dwelling on the past?
- Are you so focused on the present that you don’t chart future plans? Or
- Are you so fixated on the future that you don’t know how to enjoy the present?
Reflecting on the past and thinking about your future goals while staying focused on what you need to do in the present is a delicate balance. Influential leaders know how to balance all three.
They recognise the need to look behind – but not for so long that they get lost in the past. Reflecting on past experiences and learning from them is essential, but being fixated on something that has passed – and which you cannot change – is very unhealthy.
Influential leaders also understand how to focus on the present – but not to the extent that their concentration on the present precludes them from planning for the future and making decisions that have long-term, sustainable outcomes.
Looking ahead means a leader scans the horizon and thinks ahead. They take a step back and see the bigger picture.
This perspective is important as it helps them understand what may be changing in a global and societal context, and what they need to do to help their team and the organisation make good progress, and stay ahead of the game.