Learning to Lead Beyond Linear Time

Some leaders are too productive. I don’t mean they get too much done, but their extreme focus on linear time blinds them to judge productivity exclusively on speed, efficiency and tasks accomplished. 

We know precisely how long it should take to walk to the car, boil water, or to write a simple email. We evaluate ourselves by the time we don’t waste, allowing us to accomplish even more tasks.  

But how long does it take to establish trust, fall in love, garner credibility or devise a new and innovative strategy? 

When we measure time simply by clocks and plans, we define action in terms of steps and intervals. This singular adherence to linear time can cause us to miss the creative side of leadership. It can also cause us to convey to others (and even ourselves) that time, efficiency, and speed are more important than people, feelings, consensus and understanding.

The best leaders expand their definition of time to include inspiration, imagination and flexibility. They incorporate unstructured and unplanned time to address “people” issues, as well as to sort out their own feelings and intuition.  

We can value schedules, appointments, punctuality and quick actions, as long as we recognize that our view of time must also include the time it takes to think and ponder and discuss without a specific outcome in mind. Doing so makes you more productive with the things that really matter.