Lately, I have found myself under more and more time pressure. During my early morning meditations I am observing my mind racing from task to task. It’s almost comical to watch! Less funny is the tension I sense in my back when my mental chatter goes into task master. It signals the fear of dropping a ball in all the juggling.
Most of us know this building sense of time pressure. And we have different mechanisms to cope.
My go-to used to be coming straight to the point in meetings, trying to keep them short. Which is ok, except that I put others quite on edge as they sense that I want them to be quick about it. Essentially this behaviour is an expression of putting task over connection. Let’s be clear: It’s a (self-)leadership failure.
Even when we don’t verbalise our busyness, the people we interact with intuitively pick up the vibe.
Do you remember a meeting that was off, but were unable to pin down the source of the awkwardness?
It’s the way the other person, or yourself, have showed up behind the words. I have learnt and am still practicing to put relationship over task when time is scarce, by checking in first. My experience is that tasks fall into place easily when I allow for a few minutes to simply connect.
Great leaders excel at connecting to others. They understand that connection is key if we want others to collaborate with us.
Others pick up on whether we care for them, and they decide to engage in our plans and actively contribute to our tasks, based on both the rationale and on our way of being.
Yet how can we make the time for relationship, with all the competing demands on us?
Well, it’s hard to say no to projects and meeting requests that mean overload for us. But this is what we have to do. And that’s easier when we are clear on what we want to create in our lives, in the next year, in the next month, this week, and TODAY. This makes it easier to tell people that we don’t have time for a call or a project, however much we want to be of service o how much we are intrigued by a new and ever so interesting project.
I have the experience that when I say no upfront, people take it graciously. Because everyone understands our time pressure. And as Adam Grant, the organizational psychologist from Wharton business school, has recently tweeted: