[June 25, 2020] Leader routines can be a handy way to strengthen job efficiency and effectiveness. We all know that. Today, I will comment on leader routines and how they differ from the average person.
Routines provide structure, predictability, and stability. It reduces the chaos in our lives and is also true for leaders. The problem with leaders, however, is that their daily life is hard to set into a standardized schedule. By definition, leaders are solving problems, both predictables, and unknown unpredictables. Leaders look to the future and attempt to predict what comes next. This outward focus is not as easy as one might first think.
Senior leader schedules are even less predictable and more volatile, complex, and uncertain that those of a junior leader. While many of us, including junior leaders, often see a routine that spans a day or a week, a senior leader routine can cover up to a year or more. It is not always easy to create such long-range routines, but they are possible and highly practical.
Generally speaking, we can categorize leader routines into three parts:
- Administrative: Letter writing, meetings, emails, reading, studying, exercise, phone calls, resourcing, and personal time to contemplate, review, and create a vision, reinforce values, etc. This is where intelligence and conscientiousness come into play.
- Traveling and Connecting: Going to see – with their own eyes – what is happening in their organization, talking to employees, and listening to what’s going on. I call it kicking the tires It’s also called management by walking around.
- In the Fight: Most leadership is mundane. I call this being in the fight because it’s the day to day effort to make things work better and more efficiently. It means being around to ensure the mission is being accomplished and the workers are properly cared for.
The more senior a leader, the more routines are scheduled weekly and monthly. Some scheduled items will be up to annually or more (if there is a long-range plan). These routines consist of scheduling what is the best fit for the organization. It requires regular review and adjustment to the schedule and enough flexibility to make quick and decisive changes.
Leader routines can also give that individual more time to think, study, and formulate future plans. Time is one resource that is always in short supply. Routines will help but are not the panacea that guarantees success.
And finally, a good routine will ensure the leader has adequate family and friend time as well as space for neighbors and community. Routines will also include at least two weeks off per year for a vacation away from work. Time off works for high achievers who want to balance their lives.