Are Busy Managers Bad Leaders?
“I’m busy.” That is the sentence that you don’t want to hear from your manager, especially when you are facing a problem. But there is a common notion that “I’m busy” is a sign of how much work you have and that you must be an important person when you are busy. If we aren’t busy, then we aren’t important, right?
If you think that leaders should be busy due to the large set of responsibilities that fall into their hands, then you should really think twice. Usually, bad leaders are the busy-type of people, and there are plenty of arguments to support such a statement.
I know that it’s a bold statement to say that a busy manager is a bad leader because we are all busy. But before you add a comment under this article, let me share with you few things about how the “I’m busy” statement can have an impact on the team, on the performance of individual team member, and on the leader them self.
Leaders who face high workloads (i.e., high amounts of work and time pressures) tend to prioritize technical responsibilities at the expense of treating employees fairly — that becomes their second priority (source: journals.aom.org). But we know that most people don’t leave companies but rather leave managers.
And bad managers are not treating employees fairly. And if the employees are not being treated fairly by their managers, then they won’t help their colleagues and won’t be among the best performers in the company. They also won’t be as committed to the company as employees who feel that they are being treated fairly (source: psycnet.apa.org/).
Leaders play an important role in our careers. Having a good leader can feel like you won the lottery. Not only do you have somebody you can learn from, but you also have somebody who is there for you and helps you grow. A bad manager has a different impact on us, on our personal and career growth, and our performances. I was lucky in that most of the leaders I’ve had during my professional career were great leaders who always had time for me and were not “busy leaders.”
If you are someone who mostly answers “busy” to the question “how are you?” then it may be time to revise both your schedule and your behavior. Only in this way will you actually aim at becoming a good leader, a leader who people truly appreciate and wish to follow in any circumstances.
While it is true that your schedule may go haywire now and then, the term “busy” should not characterize you on a daily basis. If you find yourself in a busy situation day after day, then there are very high chances that your current plan is not working. Something you may be doing is not helping you out as expected. Unfortunately, your team or employees risk being neglected, and if you don’t do something about it, you will soon see them walking away.
Why is a busy leader a bad leader? You may want to take a close look at the following aspects.
1) A Busy Leader Lacks a Proper Plan
Unfortunately, this is the sad truth. If a leader unable to properly manage their time over and over again, it means that they’re lacking a proper plan or that the plan they have isn’t working. On the contrary, great leaders will always have a proper structure to their day and will stick to the set plan, no matter what. This is what makes them effective and an inspiration to the others.
While there’s nothing wrong with not finding the ideal plan right from the start, if you can’t seem to be effective during your day in a repeated manner, then you must see what is not working and change your plan.
2) A Busy Leader Thinks that No One Can Do Things Better than Them
One of the most common mistakes of some leaders is thinking that no one is better than them. Thus, they will end up having busy, even hectic schedules out of the attempt to control everything. They turn into micromanagers who want to do everything on their own or in their way because they think that no one else is capable of achieving things like they do. We all know that type of leader.
What makes a leader great is the power to make people responsible and proud of themselves. This means knowing the skills and abilities of the team or employees and delegating tasks to each team member. Every employee wants to be appreciated and show that they are more than capable of doing a good job. Even when someone fails at completing a task correctly, a great leader will not be upset but will help that person through the moment and their own boundaries.
3) Busy Leaders Actually Waste Time
Even if a leader says they are busy, it doesn’t mean that such a leader will end up accomplishing an impressive number of tasks during a day. They are often busy because they have issues focusing, don’t have their priorities straight, and have a false impression that they need to control everything. This is especially true for first-time managers whose current leader and role model is a “busy manager.” This situation will, inevitably, lead to a waste of time instead of using every minute effectively.
A mistake busy leaders make is panicking when they have some spare time. If they delegated tasks to all of the employees and everything runs correctly, then they may end up with some free time on their hands. Instead of finding ways to spend that time in a useful way, they waste it by going back to their old habits. Thus, when something requires immediate action, busy leaders won’t have sufficient time to manage whatever came up.
4) Busy Leaders Don’t Know How to Push away Distractions
A factor that can lead to a hard-to-manage schedule is the inability to turn distractions off. Yes, when you’re a leader, the phone may ring rather often, and you will receive a lot of emails and messages. But you need to know what your priorities are. For instance, if you are in the middle of a meeting with your employees, forget about answering the phone or checking your inbox.
Doing so will seem like a lack of respect in the eyes of your employees. They want your attention and dedication during that meeting, so you need to learn to block distractions. You need to focus and manage your time correctly if you want to get things done. So check your inbox periodically, not every two minutes.
5) Busy Leaders Have a False Impression that Everybody Needs to Be Supervised
It’s okay to check on your employees periodically, but you definitely don’t need to monitor them all the time. You need to assign tasks and have the confidence that they will do well. To make sure that errors won’t slip in, always encourage your employees to ask questions or ask for help if they find something is unclear. Constantly supervising what they are doing will only waste your time. After all, you have employees who work for you so you can focus on the most important aspects of your business.
When you show confidence toward an employee’s abilities and skills, you will also boost their motivation and self-esteem. Employees who feel valued by their company won’t want to leave. But those who are continuously “haunted” by their managers before they even have the chance to finish a task will feel stressed and will eventually seek a job at a different company.
If you find yourself in some of the situations presented above, there’s no need to panic. You just found out what is not working for you, so now you have the chance to make things better.
If you want to be a great leader for your team members or employees, you now know that a busy manager is not a good leader. We all are busy at some point, but it’s important to prioritize responsibilities. Your team members should always be a priority number one!
Think about your daily tasks and meeting you are attending or preparing. Robert C. Pozen, a productivity expert, suggests limiting the number of people you are inviting to a meeting to only those who actually need the information you are going to share. He also suggests that most meetings are far too long. And I agree with him that sometimes instead of a one-hour meeting, 30 minutes could a do the trick, and you will be forced to focus on things that are important.
Try to come up with an efficient plan that will help you get through the day successfully, and trust your employees when it comes to getting tasks done. You don’t need to micromanage everything they do.
If you’re busy as a leader, you’re doing it wrong. The best leaders choose not to be busy.
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About the author:
Jan is an author of a book “Full Stack Recruiter: The Modern Recruiter’s Guide”, Full Stack Recruiter: New Secrets Revealed and Jak hledat zaměstnance v 21. století. And creator of sites like Sourcing.Games, Recruitment.Camp and other projects. As a speaker and blogger, Jan believes that recruitment is a great field and he is constantly trying to make it better.