How do top CEOs lead during this exponential age? How do you manage the explosion of information and onslaught of increasing competition? How do you prevent yourself from getting burned out? How do you maintain agility during today’s tsunami of change?
Today’s post is the third of three parts deriving insights and advice from three incredible forward-thinking leaders: Beth Comstock, Sue Siegel and Arianna Huffington, who addressed my 2017 Abundance 360 CEO Summit in a module called “Exponential Leadership.” Today’s post will focus on Arianna Huffington’s advice. (Be sure to read parts one and two for insights from Beth Comstock and Sue Siegel.)
Arianna Huffington is an incredible entrepreneur.
She founded the Huffington Post, a news platform with millions of readers per month. AOL acquired the Huffington Post in 2011 for $315 million.
Now, Arianna is starting an exciting new company called Thrive Global to help entrepreneurs and individuals make their lives more sane, meaningful and productive.
As a busy entrepreneur, the company’s mission is deeply meaningful to me, and I will be the first to admit that I need to work on all of the advice below.
Let’s dive into Arianna’s best practices for leaders in exponential times.
Arianna Huffington’s 10 Lessons on Exponential Leadership
1. You Don’t Have to Burn Out: We are swimming in a culture (particularly in Silicon Valley) based on the belief that to succeed, you have to burn out. This is scientifically false. People who burn out at work do not perform as well as people who are well rested and balanced.
2. Allow For Time to Renew Yourself: To be your most productive, your most effective, and your most creative as a leader, you must allow time to renew yourself.
3. Do Entry Interviews: Arianna explains, “Right now, everybody does exit interviews. How about doing entry interviews and asking people what they need to feel balanced?” Ask your team proactively how to improve the environment in which they work. The return on this simple question can be extraordinary.
4. Create Elegant Success — Find Your Spot Between Chaos and Order: Arianna spoke about a concept called “Elegant Success.” It’s about finding the right balance between order and disorder. She explains, “You don’t want too much bureaucracy, hierarchy, or rules (ie. absolute order), but you also don’t want to have complete chaos.” This takes some experimentation and iteration to get right, but when you do, you can optimize your workflow and maximize your creative output.
5. Our Relationship With Technology Has to Change: Arianna believes that most of us have a very unhealthy, unsustainable relationship with technology right now. We are addicted to it. We waste time using it. It consumes us. This is why she started Thrive Journal within Thrive Global. It’s a media platform to share the latest science about the need to set boundaries and to change our relationship with technology. She wants to create new role models that will shape the conversation around improving our health and productivity. For example, Jeff Bezos wrote a piece for Thrive Journal titled “Why My Sleeping 8 Hours at Night is Good for Amazon Shareholders.”
6. Sleep More! Arianna cited a study from the RAND Corporation estimating that sleep deprivation costs us $411 billion per year in lost productivity. You need to prioritize sleep and plan for it ahead of time; otherwise, you’ll miss a critical opportunity to recharge.
7. Put Your Phone Away 30 Minutes Before You Go To Sleep: Arianna explains, “You’ve really got to slow down your brain before you go to sleep. Create your own 30-minute nightly ritual and put your phone away!”
8. Don’t Call It Slowing Down: This is really important. Arianna believes that, “If you define these strategies as ‘slowing down,’ you are never going to do them. Nobody wants to slow down, and it’s really not slowing down. It’s making your life and your work more elegant, more effective and more productive.”
9. Ask for Help: In so many cultures, nobody wants to ask for help. Arianna’s goal is to create a community of people who aren’t afraid to ask for help and who want to help each other. If you feel stressed, bogged down, burned out or too busy, ask for help.
10. Make Your Leadership Meetings Device-Free: These days, we’re always multitasking. In meetings, this sometimes means you are in a meeting while sending emails on your computer, sending texts on your smartphone, and receiving updates and messages on your smartwatch. We aren’t fully present, and it’s costing us big time. Instead, make your leadership meetings “device free.” You’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish and what you can retain and learn from these meetings. To incentivize your team to leave their devices behind, aim to do meetings in half an hour, rather than an hour. And create a policy around this notion: “If you have something more important to do, don’t come to the meeting.”
You should also buy this phone bed from Thrive to let your devices get some rest while you do:
Change is coming. Exponential leaders must prepare for it and embrace it.
You’ve got to resolve conflict proactively, expect the best from your team, and fuel their energy to solve problems and create extraordinary results.
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