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Leadership hacks that transform the way you work

Tired of attending training sessions that regurgitate leadership theory from the 1990’s?  A recent Forbes article titled ‘Why leadership training doesn’t work’ identified how many leadership training programs offer limited success because they focus on theory, not how to implement practical strategies and don’t take the time required for skills to stick.

To keep pace with the digital world we need practical strategies that fast track our approach to accomplish more in less time.  What we need are ‘Leadership Hacks’.  A leadership hack is anything that helps you (or your people) accomplish more in less time. This can include:  shortcuts that many not be commonly known, simplified steps to make a task easier to do or fast-track processes that speed things up.

One of the key areas that leaders need to hack is their approach to their email communications and inbox.  Tricia Velthuizen is the CEO of Churchill Education, a Queensland based business that has assisted thousands of students in studying and attaining further accreditation, with over 1400 qualifications awarded last year.  She was honoured with the 2016 Achieve Forum Australia HR Champion CEO of the Year award in recognition for her innovation and inspiring leadership.

One of the challenges Tricia found with the growth of the business from two staff to almost 60 was keeping on top of emails.  Rather than taking a traditional approach and continuing to check the inbox every 5minutes she hacked her approach.  First she put in a process of configuring her inbox to sort her emails by sender to save time, then she deletes emails and responds to the remaining important ones.  She also reduces the amount of times she checks her inbox so she does not get distracted.  By using this email hack she has more time to get things done throughout her day.

To leverage this further with her team that is spread across two countries, Tricia more recently started using the Slack app for internal communications.  Slack is a platform that allows staff to post a communication that other staff can see and easily respond to—and follow the thread of communication rather than being distracted with additional emails.

Another crucial area that needs to be hacked?  Team meetings.  Who hasn’t been to a meeting that was a waste of time?  A Harvard Business Review article from last year showed that many executives are spending up to 23 hours per day in meetings—with 65% of them saying that these meetings keep them from completing their own work.  Add all of these meetings up including the time and lost productivity and this is a big opportunity that needs to be hacked.

To hack their approach to meetings, Mike Azbell, Global Vice President & Controller for Kimberly-Clark Corporation, started looking into how to be more effective—and make sure that meetings were not just talk.  As the head of global accounting for a Fortune 150 company with annual sales turnover of $18billion his team takes data from over 175 countries and 100 manufacturing locations and creates financial reports that need to be accurate and completed within tight timeframes.

Traditional meetings would slow them down. Together with his team, he identified that the best solution was to have a 15-minute working meeting at the beginning and end of the day—with everyone standing up.  They use visual management systems so the team can identify and track projects and timelines on dashboards on the wall as well as in digital format.  They find they are much more effective when meeting together in the hallway to discuss the project boards than in a typical boardroom.

There are 4 types of team meetings:  reporting, problem-solving, decision-making and strategy-development.  When the wrong format is used, attendees switch off, frustration levels increase and the outcomes trying to be reached can take longer.   By selecting the right meeting for the right situation you increase the effectiveness of everyone involved and eliminate wasted time.

By implementing a number of leadership hacks, you can transform the way that you work and enable you and your people to get more things done in less time.


Written by: Scott Stein is a leadership pathfinder and author of Leadership Hacks: Clever shortcuts to boost your impact and results (Wiley).

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Scott Stein

Scott Stein

Contributor at CEOWORLD magazine
Scott Stein is a leadership pathfinder that has helped thousands of leaders to implement fast-track strategies that improve results.He is the author of Leadership Hacks: Clever shortcuts to boost your impact and results (Wiley).
Scott Stein

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