Learn to say no, and put time on your calendar to think.
June 2, 2020 5 min read
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As a business leader, is your management style dependent on the situation? Or do you instinctively adapt your style to suit specific conditions?
I interviewed Serguei Beloussov, CEO of global tech and cyber security firm Acronis, at their Global Cyber Summit in Miami, FL. When asked about his personal leadership style, Beloussov shared a story about a hockey game he attended in Finland. One of the teams was more skilled, but the other team was playing faster. “While the faster team made more mistakes, their speed made it impossible for the skillful team to keep up, and the faster team won,” explained Beloussov. “One thing about leadership style is that I try to operate in a situation where there is a lot of change, and in those situations, you always operate faster than it’s possible to organize.” He went on to say that situations like this force you to “do things that may look impossible first,” and that styles of leadership always change to meet the demands of the situation. “The main thing is that you have to be detail-oriented and you have to be hands-on, and you have to be ready to adjust your style.”
In today’s business and economic climate it’s never been more critical to have the capacity to adapt. Beloussov’s advice inspired me to critically think about daily habits, the ones that successful business leaders engage in every day. Here are eight habits that most business leaders tend to agree on.
1. Put thinking time on your calendar
Maybe it’s that overwhelmed feeling that’s been slowing you down. The “cool kids” in the business world have figured out that busy-ness shouldn’t be worn as a badge of honor. Warren Buffett spends a lot of time thinking, and he says it’s a key to his success. Take time to think. It’s one of the modern luxuries of the 21st century.
Related: 25 Best Habits to Have in Life
2. Play like a team
We hear the sports analogies all the time, but they apply well to this business principle. When you’re trying to assemble a winning team, your people are your players. Instead of a top-down approach to team leadership, “coach-leaders” activate their teams to win championships while helping “players” take ownership of their roles.
3. Learn how to say no
Too many demands on your time, especially meetings, can drain creativity and zap energy, leaving you little time to accomplish anything in a day. It’s okay to say no to meetings if you don’t expect to add much to the conversation. Say no more often, and you’ll be surprised how it impacts your productivity.
4. Only check email once a day
This will be a challenge at first, especially when most of us check email on our phones several times per hour. But you don’t have to completely ignore your inbox throughout the day; just flag emails that may demand same-day attention, and then go back and answer them when the time is right. You will become a lot more focused if you force yourself to hold back on emailing outside of the scheduled time.
5. Plan, plan, and plan some more
At no time has planning been more attractive than now, when so many business leaders wish they could go back six months and plan for this current reality. Now is a great time to dissect and understand what drives your business and decide what to do if that changes.
6. Schedule your day around your brain
When is your brain firing on all cylinders? Some of the most effective business leaders prefer to wake up at 4 am and get to the office before anyone, and then spend the first four hours of the day in prime critical-thinking mode. Your pattern could be just the opposite. Start paying attention and you’ll find the schedule that works best for your brain.
7. Nurture personal relationships
Putting positive energy and commitment into your personal relationships will have an immediate positive effect on your career and how you interact with peers in the workplace. Just a small change in attitude can make all the difference, especially in our digital world. Pay attention to your communication style and remember to stay positive.
8. Get out of your comfort zone
As much as possible, I try to push myself to do something new and potentially uncomfortable, every day. It could be something simple, like striking up a conversation with a stranger, or something more daring like agreeing to speak at a conference. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone causes growth, and it can also help you to make valuable connections.