Do you get in early? Stay late? Eat lunch at your desk? Check email from bed? Do you take a lunch only when you’re drowning and just need to get out of the office? Is a burger, fries and a shake a reward for a grueling morning? Have you ever said, “I don’t want to live like this. This isn’t me."
Do you have more than you can reasonably fit on your plate? Do you basically handle whatever falls off? But only if it explodes? If you have ever asked,
“How do I deal with one thing after another blowing up in my face?
I need . . . something . . . because I am drowning. Wave after wave of work is knocking me down and the tide is coming in.”
I’ve been there too.
28% is spent emailing and email is open the rest of the day in case something potentially explosive comes through:
A study of employees at Cisco revealed that failing to respond to an email can lead to a swift breakdown in trust. Are you sitting on an unexploded time bomb?
Is email killing you? That might read like hyperbole; read on and decide for yourself. A study of British civil servants found that the rank and file employees were at greater health risk than higher ranking administrators. Chronic stress was the culprit. These employees were accountable for outcomes where they had little authority, influence or control. Negative outcomes appeared, as if at random, outside of their control and influence. The result, chronic stress.
Often the sources of stress are small and varied, but chronic stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death, a slow death by a thousand papercuts. It’s not a huge leap to see that many of those small and varied stressors are coming from your inbox.
How does our work culture respond to this threat? Researchers have coined the term telepressure to describe the urge to respond immediately to email. I guess you can’t cure it ‘til you name it first. This urge includes thinking about emails that need to be written. As a result, says Larissa K. Barber, an assistant professor of psychology at Northern Illinois University, “You have trouble cognitively letting it go.”
I've been there. The research is helpful. But it only confirms I'm not the only one that struggles with email, but that is not a solution. Managing email is a significant part of work. For my own sanity I went looking for a process to get my inbox under control because there had to be an easier way.
Have you heard of David Allen’s Getting Things Done? GTD for short. I’ve never read his book because my first exposure to his material was an MP3 download of the GTD LIVE Two Day Seminar. David Allen offers an introductory GTD course thru LinkedIn Learning. It’s an introduction to the theory and general practices. It’s not bad. But if you want to really master the skill, it will only get you started. You will need something else to get into the details and best practices. If $99 and two days is too much, an alternative is this Inbox Zero course from Udemy. I like it because it is highly specific, actionable, and it’s video instruction. This course wasn’t around when I was figuring this stuff out, but this is exactly what I did in my gmail.
The GTD LIVE Two Day Seminar is fantastic! Skip the book. I highly recommend this seminar. At $99 it is pricy but, I have listened to it again and again. As David Allen says, the process is iterative. It isn't all or nothing. You can apply parts of it. You can learn, apply, and grow. Then repeat. I've taken a lot of notes.
One of the biggest takeaways from David Allen is the two minute rule. Do anything that takes less than two minutes right away the first time it is in your face. It’s surprising how many things you put off that can get done in two minutes or less. For example, wash your dishes immediately after you eat, toss the laundry in the washing machine, take out the garbage . . . invest in yourself . . . invest in your time.
Buy the seminar. You have two minutes.
It is easy to get overwhelmed or even lost because of the many niches within the leadership & business development genre. I read a lot in this space. The more I read the more I feel I need to read. It can be discouraging. It is easier for you to digest if you break it down into chunks. Here are four to start: building relationships, business acumen, self awareness, & organizational strategy.
Building Relationships. Do you want to be my friend? Sometimes that is all it takes. My kids do it all the time. Building leadership starts with positive and effective relationships. This is a core competency.
Business Acumen. You need to be able to do something, attain goals with minimum guidance. Otherwise you are just hanging out. This includes the competencies of teamwork, performance & motivation. Although it also encompasses technical skills, managing work, and industry knowledge.
Self Awareness. Self awareness is the bud that flowers into leadership. If you think of these as stages then this is where a top performer starts to become a leader. That is why a lot of training starts here. Self awareness includes the competences of vision & values, sustainability, resilience, and emotional intelligence.
Organizational strategy. The ability to set the vision and direction for the long term success of the organization. Its comprised of the following competencies: political acumen, awareness. change, culture.
It's impossible to tackle all of them at once. That is the point of chunking it down. Pick one. Make a four to six week plan to focus on a skill in your chosen competency. Work to actively change your behaviors and habits. Habits drive change. It takes 4 to 6 weeks groove the behavioral and neurological pathways of the new habit you want to create. In a year to a year and a half you can make meaningful progress in each of the 12 competencies.
Create a masterminds group with professional peers. Focus: What is working?What needs improvement? Share challenges and successes. Support each other with suggestions, encouragement, ideas for improvement. Network to create mutually beneficial opportunities.
Attend leadership development programs. Some ideas on where to look for programs: at work, local universities, non-profits, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera.
Form a leadership development group. Read a book or take a course and come together to discuss implementing the changes.
Why talk about leadership on a blog about data? We have not talked about data or decision making. I don't have a lot of time to write. I debated including leadership as a thread of this blog. I decided the topic merited inclusion.
These 12 competencies are inputs that go into decisions at an organizational level. To make the best use of data a data driven organization, a data savvy manager, needs an understanding of leadership theory. The theory informs a leader of the right questions to ask when mining data. I've taken some additional notes on these 12 competencies. I plan to flesh these out over time showing how they play a role in a data driven organization. For now my notes will have to do.