What does a great leader look like on the inside and why is it important? In this five-part series, we will be looking at “Great Leadership from the Inside Out” … because what is within you as a leader determines what comes out of your leadership.
As a leader, you want to be continually moving forward. You want your team to be moving forward. You want your business to be moving forward. So, you should constantly be on the move, right?
In their classic book Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, James Sipe and Don Frick affirm that servant-leaders engage in “regular periods of self-reflection; that is, getting in touch with one’s inner voice and seeking to understand what one’s body, mind, and spirit are communicating.” In other words, if you want to keep moving forward, you have to make time to stop.
In The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), this truth is encapsulated in the Clarity Break™. A Clarity Break™ is when a leader sets aside regular time to step outside the office – away from the pressures and problems, the emails and meetings – to think. It could be 30 minutes or an hour or more. It could be once a day, once a week, or once a month. The key is that the leader gets out of the office environment and all its demands to gain fresh perspective.
This is not a time to relax and read the newspaper. It is not a time to catch up on tasks that have fallen by the wayside. It is not “time off.” It is “time on” – time to spend on yourself and on the business. Gino Wickman, founder of EOS, puts it this way: “By working on yourself and the business, you will rise above feeling frustrated and overwhelmed to a clearheaded and confident state. As a result, when you come back into the business, you will be laser-focused and in the right leadership frame of mind.”
Stepping away, slowing down, and embracing quiet helps you get centered. It provides the space to reflect on the broader picture of the business or yourself as a leader. It gives you time to engage in creative thinking about problems or opportunities … creativity that just cannot happen amidst the noise and demands of day-to-day issues, execution, and fire drills.
We know what you’re thinking: “I don’t have time to stop!”
You’re right. You don’t have time. You have to MAKE time. Wickman states, “To start, pick a one-hour block of time next week, block it out, and do it. If you wait around for the right time to appear, it never will. It must be an appointment that you schedule with yourself.”
The leaders who try it swear by it; it becomes a sacred time for them. Taking time to reflect and think disarms “the tyranny of the urgent.” It puts a halt to the intensity and stress that seem to always accompany the leadership role. Leaders find that by spending time thinking about the business and not just the issues of the day, they are able to stay ahead of the competition. They become better leaders as they assess how they have handled recent situations or how they want to handle an upcoming situation.
The simple truth is that stopping to reflect and think is part of your job as a leader. It is time spent on the business and for the business. It is critical to you becoming the best leader you can possibly be. So don’t say, “I can’t afford to take time to stop.” You can’t afford not to.