“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
In this world of continuing distraction and constant interruption the ability to say “no” is more important than ever. The hold that our digital “leashes” have over us is perhaps more akin to a “shock collar” than a leash. Just how long can you go without checking your phone for alerts, messages, etc?
I recently installed an app on my phone that measures the number of times in a day that I unlock and use my phone as well as the amount of screen time I utilize each day.
By the way, isn’t “phone” the wrong label for our devices? How much time do we actually use them as “phones” versus everything else. I remember the time when Palm Pilots and Newtons were sold as a “PDA” or “Personal Digital Assistant.” Nowadays perhaps “PDM” is a better label, “Personal Digital Master.” But I digress…
Imagine my shock and surprise when I learned that I was opening and unlocking my “phone” over 100 times a day! In a world where you sleep for 8 hours (I wish!) then in 16 hours I am unlocking and viewing my phone on average 6.25 times per hour, or just under every 10 minutes.
What does this have to do with leadership? In a word, everything. If you are leading you must be present, focused and able to serve. How can you do that if you serve a digital master that is unrelenting in it’s demands on your time? What does it say to those whom you serve if you can’t put down the digital device for as few as 10 minutes to focus on their needs?
I’m still figuring out what I need to do with this information. I just know that if I want to be a leader that is focused on serving a broader and more meaningful mission, and my team that delivers on that mission, I have to be able to say “no” to the PDM. Saying yes is easy, saying no is going to be so much harder…