The higher up you are in your organization, the more time you should spend working on your business, not working in your business.
A functional manager, for example, like someone who manages a call center, can perhaps spend 95% of the day supervising subordinates, tracking calling activity, and handling the other day-to-day requirements of the job. That would leave 5% of the day to reflect on how to do the job, make improvements, etc. But if you are a CEO, you should spend 95% of your time reflecting on your business and only 5% performing routine tasks.
How can you reach that level of effectiveness when there are so many day-to-day, repeating duties to perform? The answer is, you need to take time to gain fresh perspective on the big issues that allow you to grow and transform your organization, not simply keep it running.
Ways to Gain Perspective
Here are some activities that can build executive perspective:
- Attend industry conferences to listen to, and connect with, keynote speakers and other experts
- Invest in your own education through seminars about leadership, management, trends and other critical topics
- Cultivate the habit of taking time to listen to people in your organization whose outlooks and areas of expertise are different from your own
- Build a top executive team of people whose skills differ from your own
- Look for lessons in other industries that can help you in yours
- Study best practices in other companies in your industry too
- Read industry publications that keep you keyed into important trends and technologies
- Identify blogs that inform and inspire you, subscribe to their feeds, and become a regular reader
- Network and talk to senior executives at other companies
- Join professional groups on LinkedIn and participate in discussions
- Read books that are forward-thinking, practical and motivational about leadership and your field
- Communicate with your customers, both established and new, to understand their needs
- Keep the lines of communication open with former colleagues and peers, even those who have left your organization if appropriate
- Study companies in other industries that are courting the same customers that you are, so you can learn lessons about marketing and other strategies that can help you compete for their dollars
Tap the Power of Learning by “Being There”
Talking, reading and listening are all effective ways to gain perspective on what is taking place in other companies. But I have found that even more profound learning happens when you personally visit other companies and see first-hand what is taking place in them.
I also have found that traveling to other countries has opened my eyes to new approaches and ways of doing business. When I was in the floor covering business, for example, I got many ideas when I travelled to Europe. I saw that stores there did things quite differently from the way we did in the U.S. I found ideas that had validity back home, brought them home, and put them to work in support of my company’s growth and success.