We see it every day: people driving with one hand on the wheel and the other holding a phone to read or text with. It’s a plague and not just limited to “kids these days.” Many people old enough to know better do it too.  And do you think that plague of distraction ends at the parking lot? Hardly. People are highly susceptible to distraction. Leaders can do a lot to help. Below are a few things you can do about it.

Practice self-mastery. People will emulate what they see. If the leader seems distracted by technology, then others will take it as a sign of permission. It seems so basic, but turn the phone over and keep eyes off the screen when in meetings. If the meeting itself is a waste of time take whatever action within your power to make sure it is a good meeting (like insisting on an agenda in advance).

Instill some replacement therapy. People may be distracted simply because they are bored. Try replacing things that are not interesting with those things that are interesting, at which people can win, and are intrinsically rewarding. Radio programs often use the phrase “music to get you through your work day.” If there is nothing but a mindless slog of a day available to people then of course they will be looking for diversions.

Continuously reinforce the ends of your means. Creating a new leadership program is a means to prepare talent for the future, not an end unto itself. Sending people to new safety training is not the objective, the objective is a safer work environment. Less time spent on manual entry is an outcome. Buying new enterprise software is not.  People will naturally want to start new programs and initiatives. Leaders need to make sure they (and their direct reports) don’t fall in love with their activity and lose sight of the expected outcome.

Distraction is a big deal on and off the road. Do your part to be part of the solution and get people to be less of the problem.

[Want to find more ways to get the best out of yourself and your team? Contact me to schedule a time to discuss your unique situation.]