Attention Leaders – Dealing with Distractions

February 23, 2012

Ever had one of those moments as a leader when you suddenly lost all focus due to some distraction in the room? It can happen to anyone in the middle of a meeting with shareholders, a speech in front of an audience of employees, or even while sitting in front of a computer trying to type out an important email. Leaders typically have so many big ideas bouncing around in their brains that they can easily get all out of focus at times. It’s what makes leaders good at what they do  – advancing the organization through innovation all while multi-tasking to the max!

When distraction happens, it often catches leaders off guard. This is because when leaders are too busy working on important things, like planning the next phase of the company growth strategy, both sides of the brain are engaged. Distractions can be minor, like a sight, sound or a smell that trigger the primitive core of their brain. The key isn’t so much about avoiding distractions, as it is so much about dealing with them in an effective way. Read on to learn 5 ways to cope with distractions as a leader.

Expect some distractions.  No matter what you do to avoid or eliminate distractions, they always rear their annoying little heads in a spontaneous way. Instead of letting them bug you, expect them to happen and just accept distractions as a normal part of life and business. That way, when they happen, you won’t be caught off guard because you knew they are about to happen.

Be prepared for distractions. The best course of action as a leader is to prepare yourself for the distractions that might occur, then make a plan to deal with them when they occur. Just like anything else you may prep for, a distraction is a normal happening that you can plan for. It’s like bringing an umbrella with you in the car even if it’s sunny  – there’s always a chance of rain when you will need protection.

Use distractions to your advantage. One great way to deal with distractions is to use them to your advantage. Distractions can be a fun way to break tension in a meeting, add a break for a funny story, or change the course of a conversation when things are getting out of hand. Smart leaders use distractions to get others to loosen up, laugh, and connect on a higher level.

Write your distractions down. If you’ve ever found yourself distracted by thoughts as you are trying to accomplish other tasks, stop what you are doing and write your thought down. These are not actually bad for you,  in fact this variety of distraction is highly beneficial for you. You will find golden nuggets of genius over time, because your brain is trying to get information out.

Talk your way through distractions. A distraction can be a pivotal point when you must change gears. This means stopping for a second to regroup and talk your way through. The distraction may be a good place to catch your breath, invite others to talk some, and get your thought process back in order. The last thing you want to do is ignore a distraction entirely, instead take the time to learn from what distracts you and why.

Want to learn more about how your communication skills can help you make the most of distractions so you can move forward as a leader? Consider attending an upcoming Dale Carnegie course this year!

This post is brought to you by Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, expert providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook!

Photo Credit: Castillo Dominici

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