Leading and managing in turbulent times requires the development of a set of productive habits that will hold us in good standing an provide a solid foundation. Without a foundation of productive habits we become easily distracted and although we may find ourselves busy we fail to make any meaningful progress.

Research by Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal described in the Harvard Business Review article “Beware the Busy Manager” found that:

“Our findings on managerial behavior should frighten you: Fully 90 percent of managers squander their time in all sort of ineffective activities. In other words, a mere 10 percent of managers spend their time in a committed, purposeful, and reflective manner.”

The research also found that focus and energy are the hallmarks of purposeful managers and required for purposeful action. They describe these two elements as follows:

“Think of focus as concentrated attention – the ability to zero in on a goal and see the task through to completion. Focused managers aren’t in reactive mode; they choose not to respond immediately to every issue that comes their way or get sidetracked from their goals by distractions like e-mail, meetings, setbacks, and unforeseen demands. Because they have a clear understanding of what they want to accomplish, they carefully weigh their options before selecting a course of action. Think of the second characteristic – energy – as the vigor that is fueled by intense personal commitment. Energy is what pushes managers to go the extra mile when tackling heavy workloads and meeting tight deadlines.”

Focus-Energy Matrix

The Focus / Energy Matrix

Only 10% of managers are focused and purposefully move their company forward. The other 90% may look busy—but they’re probably just spinning their wheels! The question then is what separates the 10% of purposeful manager from the other 90% who waste their time on ineffective activities? The research highlights a number of habits that were consistent across the purposeful managers that kept them on track and productive, these were as follows:

  1. Purposeful managers tend to be more self-aware than most people.
  2. Purposeful managers have greater clarity of purpose and intention.
  3. Purposeful managers pick their goals – and their battles – with far more care than other managers do.
  4. Purposeful managers effectively manage their energy and protect their thinking time.
  5. Purposeful managers proactively manage their stress
  6. Purposeful managers sleep, watch their diet and exercise
  7. Purposeful managers build a support network

Reflecting on the above list of habits how well are you doing?

  • Can you identify where you are on the focus / energy matrix?
  • Knowing this what new habits do you need to develop to become more purposeful?