How much time each week do you spend making decisions? Likely, many of the choices you make are almost automatic, requiring little thought: Attend that meeting or not? Stay late to finish the report tonight, or come in early tomorrow? And then, there are more challenging choices, such as whether or not to terminate an underperforming employee’s employment.

Your daily work life is made up of numerous tasks, all of which require decision-making. According to Sheena Iyengar, a Professor of Business at Columbia Business School and author of “The Art of Choosing,” the average CEO works on 139 tasks per week. In a TED talk called “How to Make Choosing Easier,” Iyengar reports that scientists who documented the many decisions related to those 139 tasks found that 50% of the choices related to task completion took nine minutes or less. Not all decisions were reached quickly, however; about 12% of CEO decisions required an hour or more of thought. (read more…)

A nervous group walks into the conference group. They are still trying to shake off the holiday haze, but are totally alert and loaded for bear. It’s our vice president of sales’ first all-hands call of the year and the team has honed in on one agenda item: This year’s quota.

Loni comes on and confidently runs through our end of year results. Then she sheepishly tackles the quota. “We expect that quotas will be handed out at the sales leadership meeting in a few weeks. We hope to see…”

Rizzo thrusts out his arm and stamps down the mute button of the Polycom star phone that sits in the middle of the long oak table. “This is looking at lot like last year, boss.” He stares at me. The rest quickly follow suit.“I suppose we won’t get our objectives until July again,” he finishes.

Loni keeps on talking, but nobody is listening. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How engaged are the members of your team?

  • Highly engaged: 27.49%
  • Mostly engaged: 48.86%
  • Somewhat engaged: 17.76%
  • Not engaged: 3.65%
  • Actively disengaged: 2.43%

You need them all engaged. While it’s great that almost 80% of you have a mostly or highly engaged team, having 20% of people out there who aren’t is a huge drag on the organization. You’re likely spending 80% of your time on that 20% group of disengaged people. That’s a tremendous productivity drain because engagement matters more than you think it does. Spend a few days figuring out not now to cure the symptoms of their disengagement but rather how you can change their role or their perspective on their work to get them more engaged. (read more…)

In many workplaces today, there seems to be a reward for looking busy. The more overwhelmed you are, the bigger your payoff.

But what is the real payoff? If you’re a chronic rusher, a confirmed multitasker, what’s your reward? Perhaps more important, what is the quality of work you’re producing? And what, if anything, should you do about it? Ask yourself these seven questions:

Statements Contributing To Rushing


Do you feel your projects are more important than those of your colleagues?


Do you feel irritated when other people take too long to get things done?


Do you habitually rush from one activity to the next?


Do you push your people to get things done faster?


Are you impatient when listening to other people talk?


Do you often feel there’s no way you can get it all done?


Does your workplace culture reward busyness? (read more…)

I’m not a gamer, but when I hear the phrase “call of duty,” the popular video game immediately comes to mind.

In fact, I’ve heard it so much that when I hear the phrase outside of the gaming context, I sit up and take notice. Just what does call of duty mean in the real world? It sounds like a summoning, urging me to take a stand.

Embodying the call of duty

There are so many people who exemplify following that call, but Mahatma Gandhi immediately comes to mind for me. Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa. His call of duty was in representing the resident Indian community’s struggle for civil rights. We all know the rest of the story.

Applied in our everyday lives

I asked some of my compatriots in the Lead Change Group what the phrase “call of duty,” meant to them. (read more…)