Ignite Fires, Don’t Put Them Out: Four Ways Leaders Can Free Up Their Time and Energy

On the manufacturing floor, leaders do a ton of work! They solve problems, put out small “fires,” and constantly work to manage and motivate their teams. Emotionally intelligent leaders may also spend much of their time thinking about the best ways to communicate, navigate conflict, and advocate for the needs of their team. While these are all vital parts of a leader’s role, constantly acting as “firefighter” can take a heavy toll, leading to burn-out and stress from the heavy demands on their time and energy.

To find out more about how organizations can better support their leaders, I recently spoke with Sara Canaday on my Mindfulness Manufacturing podcast. Sara is an author and leadership development coach, who draws on her years of corporate experience to advocate for leaders and help them grow the skills they need to thrive in today’s complex, competitive workplace climate. In the podcast, she shared some of her favorite tips to help leaders find healthy and productive ways to free up their time and energy.

Leader Advocate Tip #1: You Don’t Always Have to Be Productive

From a young age, we’re taught to be productive and that being busy means we’re adding value. This deeply-rooted mindset can hugely impact how you show up as a leader. If you find yourself with a constant need to be “busy,” embrace the power of taking a mindful, strategic pause. Deep discovery and creative problem-solving can’t happen when you’re constantly running around or putting out fires on the floor. This is why it’s important to take a pause to declutter your mind, search for clarity, and think about productive solutions for your team, rather than just solving surface-level problems.

Leader Advocate Tip #2: You Have the Control

It might not always feel like it, but as a leader, you have control over your time. You might just not be scheduling yourself or delegating tasks in a way that frees up time. To find more time, take a look at your schedule. Is there a meeting that you could skip, or could you send someone else to take notes for you? By thinking about your top priorities and being willing to delegate, you can free up your time.

Leader Advocate Tip #3: Think About What Your Team Really Wants

Along with freeing up your time and energy, being more intentional makes you a stronger leader for your team. By focusing on the most important tasks, you’ll also find more time to focus on what your team really needs to feel supported and motivated. While you might feel more productive when you’re acting as “firefighter” and putting our fires on the floor, you can become a better advocate for your team by prioritizing your time and focusing on what you need to really “ignite” them and call them up to greatness.

Leader Advocate Tip #4: You’re Still Human

At the end of the day, you’re still a human! If you don’t prioritize yourself and your health, you won’t be able to show up for your team. Don’t be afraid to take time to think about what is best for your time, energy, and schedule, and reach out to others if you need help or support. By setting yourself up for a positive experience as a leader, you’ll create a trickle-down effect that will improve your team and entire organization.

Learn More on the Podcast

To hear more leadership advocate tips from Sara Canaday, check out her Mindfulness Manufacturing podcast episode here.

At Manufacturing Greatness, Trevor Blondeel works with manufacturers to connect the top to the shop floor. If you’re ready to improve your own organization, contact Trevor to learn how Manufacturing Greatness can help you build stronger leaders and develop a dynamic, high-performing workplace.