Be More Interruptible and Become a Better Leader

interruptions

Do you have interruptions in your club? Of course you do. If you’re anything like me, you get interrupted every couple of minutes with calls, voicemails, emails, texts, social media posts, employees, visitors, snail mail and meetings. On top of that, just about everything I read or hear about interruptions is negative. For example, a Journal of Experimental Psychology study found that people make twice as many errors after a brief interruption.

Here’s a different perspective: Write down your common interruptions. While looking at your list, reflect upon the following question: Are they really “interruptions?” As I created my list, I noticed many of them are people, not truly interruptions.

Last week, I’m thankful I allowed an interruption when someone excitedly told me he finally passed an exam to become a certified trainer. Over time I’ve come to realize interruptions are not always negative. I’m busy, but that doesn’t give me permission to treat people as if they’re interruptions to my day.

Think about some leaders who have made positive differences in your life. Were you able to interrupt them when you needed them the most? I’m guessing you answered with a resounding, “Yes.” You might be thinking, “OK, I agree the best leaders are interruptible, but there is no way I can regularly break the continuity of my work.” Here are my two favorite ways to manage and optimize being interrupted.

#1. Disappear. If you have a big project or ton of work to do, tell your team members you will be leaving the club for a couple of hours to minimize distractions.

#2. “Swing by.” Every day, I drop by each of my manager’s offices and simply ask if they have anything to discuss. Consistent, day-to-day “swing bys” have allowed us to meet less, which allows more time for our members to “interrupt” us.

Do you want to become a better leader? Fit people into your day. Today, make the choice to be more interruptible.

 

Derek Deprey is the general manager and director of training/development for the Wisconsin Athletic Club.

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