What do Satya Nadella, Marc Bernioff and Arianna Huffington all have in common? They know how to thrive in the age of overload. Today, business is inherently more complex than it has ever been. The moment you enter the office, you are suddenly exposed to a huge amount of bureaucracy, rules, procedures, and protocols to follow. According to a recent McKinsey study, organizational complexity (number of procedures, structures, processes, systems, vertical layers, and decision approvals) has increased by a factor of thirty-five in the last six years.

In an exclusive interview, I caught up with the  Jussi Räisänen who is the CEO of Hintsa Performance and on a mission to help leaders thrive in the age of overload. 

Here were the biggest talking points.

1. Cult of Accessibility.

Räisänen is behind an innovative new whitepaper - Shifting Gears: Business Success in a Fractured World. The main message is that we've entered a new age overload where the speed and scale of change is truly breathtaking. There are over three million apps in one of the world's leading app stores, many of us check our smart phones once every 6 minutes and most of us carry our digital devices for 22 hours per day. Consider this fact. Today is the slowest it will ever be in your lifetime. The challenge is that leadership focus is suffering. We are all consumed by 'the cult of accessibility', and leaders are no exception. The people who need to pay attention the most, are often the most at risk of distraction. The people who need to focus are often the most fatigued. So, could this increasingly fragmented approach to life and work be contributing to our increasingly fractured world? 

2. Fight Back.

Attention spans are under attack. According to a recent global survey by LinkedIn, a whopping 89 percent of people say they don't achieve their daily goals and multi-tasking eats 40% of your day. The Japanese have a saying for this - Karoshi that literally means 'death from overwork'. This is a fate we should avoid at all costs. Like an F1 Driver, when you operate at such a high level of intensity for too long, you run the risk of running your mental and emotional reserves into the red. It's like a ticking time bomb. The brain floods the body with chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline. Primitive instincts take over, forcing the brain into fight-flight or freeze behaviors, what the psychologist Dr. Steve Peters calls the "inner chimp". For an overloaded leader, this can erode focus and strategic perspective -- essential qualities for success. Give rest a chance, reframe stress as a challenge, take productive pauses for renewal and follow the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, which is to think slow and act fast.

3. Focus Like An F1 Driver.

Formula 1 is the most fascinating laboratory for leaders who want to thrive under pressure. On the face of it Formula 1 champions such as Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel and entrepreneurs might have nothing in common, other than the fact that they do their jobs sitting down, but in reality their lives are very similar. Thriving under pressure, constant travelling, lack of exercise and sleep, and dealing with uncertainty can easily overwhelm the brains cognitive limits unless you put well-being at the core of everything you do.  What can you learn from an F1 Driver? High-speed decision-making, courage to challenge old ways of thinking, embracing trends early and an obsessive focus on tomorrow being better than today are simple rules that any leader can apply to their organisations today.

Final Word.

As Davos leaders convene to explore the big issues in these turbulent times, Jussi Räisänen shows that achieving your full potential is not exclusive to the world's elite. A world in flux is creating new challenges to human health and wellbeing. One of the biggest threats is our diminishing attention span. Psychologist Herbert A. Simon wrote presciently over thirty years ago 'a wealth of information leads to a poverty of attention'. As a leader, the attention you give to others is probably the rarest and purest forms of generosity today. Are you ready to give it?

Published on: Oct 31, 2018