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Setting an alarm on her stopwatch for her fitness.

‘It’s the little things, that over time, create big results’.

Athlete Checking Race Time On Watch At ParkOver a tall glass of cool, clear water, I looked at my schedule.  Conference call 8-9, coaching call 9 – 10, meeting downtown 11:00 to noon, lunch with a friend, then a barrage of meetings the rest of the day.  No way I’d get a work-out in today – or could I?

In the olden days, I would have thought ‘I don’t have 90 minutes so what’s the point’.  As my coaching call completed, I made my notes, closed the file, and slipped into my gear.

20 squats, 20 push-ups, 10 chin-ups, repeat, 20 squats, 20 push-ups, 10 chin-ups repeat.  Within 12 minutes I’d squeaked out 4 sets, was gassed, and hit the shower.  12 minutes!  Now if you’re a cross fitter – this type of workout is nothing new.  But for many people, they think that without 60 minutes or so, they don’t have time.  They have time.

My friend Hugh Culver, author of ‘Give Me a Break – the Art of making time work for you’, is a master at finding creative ways to get more done.  As he says, it’s those small habits that done consistently over time, create big results.

He’s a great example. Though he’s run marathons, Ironmans, and won ultra distance canoe races, most of his workouts these days are short, 15 minute bursts done in a hotel room before a big keynote.  He’s fit, lean, and has the energy of someone in their 20’s!

So what does this have to do with Leadership? read on:

As I’ve worked with leaders around the world from Uruguay to Japan or from England to Canada,  I’ve noticed some patterns:

  1. Most leaders know what to do to inspire higher performance in their staff:
    1. Help people see a clear and compelling vision.
    2. Provide meaningful feedback and recognition.
    3. Provide opportunities for growth.
  2. Most leaders feel they don’t have time to share the vision, recognize or mentor others.
  3. Most leaders know that high engagement leads to higher performance, it’s a fact.

Yet even though they know what to do, they often don’t, because they don’t have time.

No wonder – these days – every leader has their own deliverables; Reporting key metrics, cross department work teams, meetings, budgets, and countless emails.  It’s challenging.

But there is a misperception.  Many leaders think that sharing the vision means a 1-hour keynote to a large group,  that feedback has to be a 1-hour performance review, or that inspiring higher engagement means a day long task force.  These initiatives can help, but it’s not limited to these.

Here are 3 ways to inspire higher engagement and performance in just 5 minutes a day.

1/ Talk about the vision in your daily conversations – with your colleagues, direct reports, leaders.  For example:

“I was thinking about how important it is for us all to be challenging the status quo – looking for new ways of doing things.  This will help us to be the ‘best …., or environmentally…., or most profitable… [fill in the blank]’.  A great example is our Warehouse and distribution team who have ….. .  What are some ideas that come to mind for you?”

When I read the above quotation s-l-o-w-l-y, it takes about 30 seconds – don’t have time to wait for the answer?  Reframe it;  – ‘hey, I’m really interested in your thoughts on how we can be more innovative, shoot me an email with some of your ideas.’  The best leaders in the world, get people talking  about the vision and their role in it.

2/ Give a piece of Positive Feedback to someone – a colleague, a direct report, a customer, even your boss!

“Hey Diane, thanks for always being so resourceful.  Like that monthly status report I asked for yesterday.  Though I didn’t give you much notice, you found away to get it done and got it to me right on time.  As a result, I was able to go into the board meeting with the data I needed to get us the approval we wanted for the AB  project.  thank you. ”

Once again – read it s-l-o-w-l-y – 30 seconds.  Person works virtually? no problem – phone them. Can’t get a hold of them? email them, and copy their boss.  Then add it to their performance plan – it will save you time later.

The most inspiring leaders in the world take these small moments that over time, earn peoples trust.

3/ Provide opportunities for growth – People often think of growth or development as ‘training’.  Yet when I ask executives and employees alike, ‘what was one of the key learning experiences you’ve had’ – it’s usually a work experience, a project they were on, a challenging situation they worked through, or a mentor they had.  Growth can be learning ‘on the job’, taking on a new task, or being part of a project team.  The best leaders in the world, find ways to continually develop their people, and it’s not just courses.

Next time you’re thinking ‘I’d like to…but I just don’t have time’ – think of the 12 minute work out idea.  Its’ the small things, that done consistently over time, add up to big results.  You can do it!  You have the time.

Got an interesting opportunity or challenge in your organization?  Drop us a note at  .



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