We're in the midst of a full-on 'hustle' crisis. We've abandoned any semblance that we should strive to work smarter and have gone all in on the need to work harder. The notion that if you're not constantly kicking up a dust cloud of momentum, you're somehow a less productive leader is now so pervasive that we've lost sight of the value that you should be bringing to your people.
Rather than focusing on the medium to long-term strategic direction of the business, I see far too many leaders deep down in the weeds and minutiae. The result is that they're spending less time creating a compelling vision, less time developing their people and less time clearing the path to achieve common goals.
Here's what happens when you confuse hustle with leadership:
You create false urgency.
When every email, phone call, slack message, meeting, report, plan, spreadsheet is urgent, then none of them are. When you live in constant fire-fighting mode you make progress in inches, not miles and you exhaust everyone around you as you pull them into a constantly moving tornado.
Delete your email app from your phone (seriously) and commit to checking your email just three times a day. Batch all your email responses together and be clear on prioritization of issues rather than rifling off individual responses to every input you receive. You'll find that your responses are clearer, more concise and better thought through.
You confuse motion with progress.
So what if you've taken twenty meetings this week, spent sixteen hours on a plane, have ten thousand unread emails and only sleep five hours a night. None of that in and of itself means that you or your business is any closer to achieving your goals. Sure, you've taken a lot of actions but have you produced the outcomes you need?
Start every week by writing out the three key outcomes you need to achieve that week. An outcome being an end result of an activity, not the activity itself. Then, focus only on undertaking activities that will lead you to achieve one of your outcomes and ditch the rest. Over time you'll see a pattern emerge that you're able to achieve much more with much less activity.
You wall off your availability.
When you're spinning around like the Tasmanian devil, you give off a strong 'Do Not Disturb' vibe. As a result, your people are likely missing out on much-needed development and learning opportunities. Even worse, they may find you so unapproachable that they're making decisions in a vacuum with no clear direction or guidance.
Every week pick one afternoon and focus only on developing your people. Have them share their vision for their journey within your organization (and beyond) and then help them identify the skills, mindset, and experiences they need to get there. Over time you'll realize that in working with your team to succeed over the long run, there's a direct correlation to the elevation of the quality of their day-to-day work.
Rather than adding into the cultural zeitgeist that busy means good and even busier means better; take a pause, slow down, focus on the long-term and kick your leadership effectiveness back into gear.