Summer at work – what should leaders do….?

Late July and August is a strange time in the business world, even stranger this year as the global pandemic has disrupted all our lives. Most of us are desperate for some much needed ‘screen off downtime’ and a break to the usual round of Teams / Zoom meetings that have cluttered our schedules for what feels like months on end.

However, time presented to us by the quieter summer weeks can be discombobulating for busy leaders used to rushing from one ‘important’ virtual meeting to another. What should be done to fill those endless minutes and hours usually taken up with urgent operational work?

Here are a few suggestions that may add some real value….

Time to Reflect

Summer is an ideal time to reflect and think about what the past year has taught you. Do a short lifeline of the year to date, highlight those events and experiences that have taught you something about yourself, about your colleagues and about your life.

Then consider this, if you could go back in time and give yourself some advice this time last year, what would that advice be?

What about the next 12 months, what do you anticipate will be the events and experiences you will face and what advice can you give yourself now that will enable you to get the most from the year ahead?

Time to Act

Tidy up! The application of the Japanese ‘5S’ approach to your work environment can have an immediate and positive impact on your attitude to work. The cathartic effect of a good de-clutter is well documented and doing all those housekeeping jobs that you keep putting off due to lack of time can dramatically improve your ability to feel a ‘fresh start’ is just around the corner.

Time to Talk

The quiet summer weeks are a good time to engage in some meaningful conversations about those ‘quadrant 2’ opportunities that are important but never urgent.

It is also a good time to get some outside in thinking into your organisation. Get in touch and invite in some trusted advisor who can see the challenges and opportunities you face through a different pair of eyes and can help you re-frame your issues and opportunities landscape.

Your colleagues may also be in a less frenetic mood so it is a good time to ponder and explore ideas with them without the need to ‘drive to action’ that permeates the work environment throughout most of the rest of the year.

Time to Walk

MBWA (management by wandering around) is a well proven technique for opening both the eyes and the mind. Being careful to adhere to sensible precautions get out and about, go see some customers, go to parts of the organisation you never visit, do a ‘day in the life of’ and get back to the floor.

Remember the world expert on any problem, issue or challenge is the person who works within 15 feet of the place where the problem occurs. Go talk to some world experts. You always mean to do this but never have the time, well now is the time!

Time to Think

Finally, carve out some time to think. Let your mind wander around the issues and challenges you face without the usual time pressures forcing you to act. See what new thoughts emerge. Zoom-out and see your challenges in the context of your career arc, revisit your personal purpose and develop a compelling vision for yourself and your area of responsibility.

With this process remember to be grateful for what you have and look to help those around you who are not so fortunate as yourself.

Finally, remember the quiet summer weeks are an all too brief oasis of calm in an otherwise busy world, don’t let them slip on by without squeezing as much enjoyment and insight out of them as you can.

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