Heart Leadership and the 4 buckets (part #2).

Heart Leadership and the 4 buckets (part #2).

I posted this week an article discussing the urgent need in our organisations for humble leaders to act like better humans and expressed the view that humble leadership should not be confused with weakness but rather as a means to free, fuel and inspire our people. We are all in the people business, no matter your industry or customer group. I floated a theory of time use I called the “Three Buckets” which invited leaders to reflect on where and how they invest their most previous resources – time and energy. After much fabulous discussion and ideas interchange, I want to present a revised model for your comment – “The Four Buckets of Heart Leadership“.

Have you ever run in to a friend out shopping and heard yourself say “Oh my God, it’s been so long, how are you? I’ve been meaning to catch up, but I’ve just been so busy!”? I am pretty sure we have all been guilty of this, right? Busy lives, no time, competing priorities, where did the time go, it’s nearly Christmas. But imagine if you said to that friend “Look, you just haven’t been a priority”. Ouch. That is actually exactly what are actions are saying. And it is exactly what the actions of too many leaders are saying to their people. I am too busy for you, you are not a priority, as evidenced by how they invest their time. Out time and money follow our priorities.

Here are four buckets which every day of every week we consciously or not allocate time to:

  • Blue – the amount of time you spend actually doing “the job” employing technical skills in your area of expertise and delivering operationally;
  • Red – the amount of time you spend developing your people, not just reactive crisis management, but listening and talking and coaching and giving feedback and hanging out;
  • Yellow – the amount of time you spend thinking about the business strategically envisioning the future, articulating purpose, re-crafting better ways of delivering customer value and looking after people;
  • Green – the amount of time you spend building self-insight, seeking feedback, learning and developing personally and professionally with a growth mindset and curious world view. This is the 4th bucket addition to this week’s post. It incorporates the key leader question “Is this a behaviour that reflects my desired professional reputation?” and “How can I act in ways that align with my purpose and values?“.

How much time should you theoretically be spending in each bucket? And then honestly ask yourself how much time you actually are spending in each one. Be brutal. In general, managers tell me that they should be spending the majority of their time in the Red bucket but are spending most of it in the Blue, and nearly none of it in the Yellow or Green. Allocate ideal percentages and then reflect hard on the gap.

How do we ruthlessly re-architect our time and carve out space to listen and learn from those we serve and to think creatively about how to do things better to make work work for ourselves and our people? Pull up your calendar for the last 4 weeks. Now critically analyse how you have spent your time:

  • What percentage of time was taken up in unproductive and unnecessary meetings? How long were these meetings and where were they held? Could you try walking, going to an Art Gallery or park, reducing them to 30 minutes, taking chairs out of the meeting room, setting better agendas?
  • What could you have delegated / coached / dropped / done differently / delayed in your time use? Were you seduced by completing tactical tasks, just doing it yourself because it is quicker and easier and feels like accomplishment or did you avoid conversations that feel uncomfortable and time-consuming?
  • Is how you invested your time aligned with values, strategic intent and purpose?
  • Do you tend to let daily demands take-over your calendar and agree to doing things that don’t fit with how you actually want to invest your time? Are you buying in to catastrophising, false urgency and an addiction to being busy, “important” and invaluable?
  • Do you allow time for your wellbeing and recharging energy and resources?
  • What specifically are you going to do / stop doing to take back your time?
  • When are you at your best and do you spend time on your most important priorities when your energy is high?
  • Are you getting enough nutrition, sleep, exercise and relaxation time to renew and recharge. You ignore these, and you are playing Russian Roulette with your wellbeing. What are you modelling to your people about self-care and sustainable wellness?

This is the Human Era. We do not just deserve better leadership, we desperately need it. I think we are collectively craving a fundamental shift in how work works and feel anxiety and shame about how we have come to this place. The world is facing wicked problems that will require courage, decency, innovation, creativity and conviction to fix. You don’t need the title of “leader” to make a difference. You need the heart. Let’s call this “Heart Leadership“. And let’s start a movement together.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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