High performing executives often lament that there are only 24 hours in a day. That’s because they’re extremely engaged with their business and devoting time, energy and focus to the most critical decisions.

For the rest, their worry about getting things done is borne of their almost constant distraction by things of little import to their employer’s business objectives.

In the first case, high performing executives are actively managing their time and attention and aligning both to strategic outcomes. Yet in a world teeming with distractions – from social media and new technology to colleagues with little emotional intelligence – insulating oneself from the noise is no easy task.

Global leaders have to block out those things that would distract them from essential priorities, even at the expense of possible misperceptions. Top managers must at the same time build trust with peers and subordinates but also impart the kind of operational separation that will enable these managers to apply their best effort to strategic issues.

When time seems to be moving faster than ever, no one can afford to waste time. Cutting distractions must become an imperative for leaders and their followers. Alas, too many managers will succumb to the distractions that, on a daily basis, drain them of their intellectual potential and energy and sap their performance. After all, it’s really easy to fall into this trap.

At the end of the day, leaders must proactively manage their time, attention and behaviour around what matters most. In today’s business world, this amounts to a constant battle – but one that must be waged.

For superior leaders, getting the job done right isn’t only a matter of asking oneself, “Are we doing things right?” but also, “Are we doing the right things?” Doing those ‘right things’ requires us to manage around the distractions.


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