Leadership and Data Overload

Everywhere I go, and I mean everywhere, executives and corporate teams are busy.
With the economy craziness and the changing face of business as well as personal and family relationships, running around at a fevered pitch is not unusual.

One of the most challenging leadership themes is finding balance between all the incoming and outgoing information. Some of the feedback I am getting during seminars sounds like war. Executives at all levels talk about bombardment – too much, too fast, and too hard to get out in front of it.

The pace, pressure and multiplicity of priorities can stress the talents of even the most capable and articulate leaders; that strain pushes the ability to stay focused. I’ve heard, “I am one massive ADD-collective, moving so fast, in every which way, never quite doing anything to the level I once aspired to.”

The tasks become endless and all-consuming. To-do lists get longer; they bleed over to the next day. Deadlines and targets are driven by adrenaline. “Worry has un-tethered my vision,” a Fortune 500 vice-president confided.

This is data overload.

And this is one of the corrosive consequences: purpose and meaning lose their meaning when panic and desperation set in.

So, how does a leader point the way with grace? We start with ourselves.

We seek to simplify.

If you’re like me, you like feeling busy — to a point. I like the action. Action equals accomplishment. It gives a way to keep score. “Look at all I did today.”
But, sometimes, too much is too much.

If overload is part of you and your employees’ daily struggle, try the following antidote for the overwhelmed:
1. Slow-down-to-go-fast.
2. Breathe. Slowly. Deeply.
3. Send shorter emails.
4. Ask for fewer meetings.
5. Maintain realistic deadlines and expectations.
6. Distill data to an easy-to-understand message.
7. Take short, fun breaks with family, co-workers and friends.

Life has enough curves, bumps and wild winds to throw anybody temporarily off-course. Balance isn’t something I maintain, but rather a state of being I return to again, and again. The art of it is first, simply in the noticing.

How about you, are you aware of your balance?