As a busy executive, you already have a ton on your plate. Now, with summer right around the corner, the heat’s about to turn up a notch in more ways than one. This time of year likely means you’ll be juggling a greater volume of work, a busier schedule, more demands, and even extra parenting responsibilities if your kids are out of school.
It’s a lot for anyone to handle. But the fact is, some leaders do—and they do it all well.
I call these unicorns high-capacity performers: those who can confidently take on multiple responsibilities and wear multiple hats with ease, while others struggle to keep up.
Studies show that some of us (ok, most of us) simply aren’t great at multitasking. It’s just not how humans tend to be wired, and constant task switching has actually been found to make us less efficient and more likely to make mistakes.
So, if it’s not about multitasking necessarily, what is the secret? These business leaders who are so good at doing it all, and doing it well—how do they actually do it, and what can we learn from them so we can do it too?
Let’s take a look at four ways you can position yourself for high-capacity performance.
1. Focus on energy management vs. time management
When we consider ways to improve our productivity, we often revert to time-management techniques like ending meetings five minutes early or limiting time on distractions like social media. But the most elite professionals, from athletes to executives, don’t practice time management—they practice energy management.
A study published in the Harvard Business Review in 2007 underscored the fact that, while “time is a finite resource,” energy is not. When researchers put team members from a dozen Wachovia banks through an energy-boosting program and compared their resulting performance with a control group of their colleagues, they found that participants significantly outperformed their peers a full year after the program was completed.
To practice energy management, recognize the things that drain you versus the things that drive you, and commit to prioritizing what drives you above all else. This could look like clearing your schedule for an afternoon nap, exercising daily, or even taking off early for a happy hour with friends, even if it means you have an hour less to work because you know you function at a higher level that way.
You are your most valuable asset! Create the space for what drives you, and the rest of your schedule will fall into place.
2. Treat yourself how you treat your business
A big part of strategic planning for a business is determining all the things you’re not going to do as an organization because they don’t provide enough value. By weeding out what isn’t a priority, your team can put their full focus on the things that actually drive results.
On an individual level, every single thing you put energy into has an opportunity cost. The most highest-capacity performers excel at saying no to the things that drain their energy without offering enough value in return.
This one is often easier said than done, especially when you’re an ambitious executive with an affinity for saying yes to new ventures, more responsibility, and greater oversight. I can honestly and humbly admit that I even struggle with saying no from time to time! In fact, in a recent team huddle, I shared that I had been putting my energy into some things that were...let’s say, less than rewarding. I knew I needed to do better—and by sharing it with my team, I was not only holding myself accountable, but now they could also hold me accountable as well.
To cut the noise in your workweek, start with a self-evaluation: which tasks are really worth it and which are draining your precious time and energy? Then, enlist others to help keep you focused on what’s going to deliver the highest value.
3. Put the right people, processes, and strategies in place
The first two are best practices, while this part is the actual how. If you don’t have the right systems and people in place within your organization, then you can’t practice energy management or hone your ability to say no in the first place. The smartest, most high-capacity executives don’t actually do it all—they build systems so it all gets done without them.
Again, this can be a tough one for those of us who naturally prefer a more hands-on, high-touch leadership style. But if you’re not taking the time to build up your team’s capacity to handle things on their own, you’re not only doing yourself a disservice, you’re preventing your people from developing their own leadership capabilities.
Build a system around you so you can disappear and nothing stops. It’s not lazy leadership—it’s the framework for high-capacity performance.
4. Need help? Get a coach!
Don’t allow yourself to become mired in stress and overwhelm a day longer. Enhance your energy and performance with an executive coach! At Werq, our experienced executive coaches can get you where you want to be as a high-capacity performer by focusing on the things that will drive the most value for yourself, your career, and your organization.