During the last years I observe a steadily increasing attention deficit, caused mainly by the use of Twitter, Facebook, and similar electronic media platforms. Even when being with people in person, they seem to be hooked to their gadgets, constantly reacting to what is appearing on their screens at an ever increasing speed. Sustaining an informal conversation, uninterrupted by for instance incoming tweets, sometimes is next to impossible.
Unfortunately, this development also reached the people in leadership positions. Often, you will see them in their offices having several chat windows open ... being logged in in different social networks and glued to their streams ... while having a “conversation” with someone being with them. They call it proudly “multitasking”, I call it “the inability of concentrating on this one thing and doing that right”.
This information overload leads directly to simply repeating other peoples thoughts and ideas, effectively shutting down the ability of truly thinking for themselves. Poor leadership, or, better, the complete absence of leadership is the immediate consequence one can observe.
As a leader you must be able to focus, to concentrate on the right things and doing these right ... one after the other. That requires thinking for yourself ... really staying with the problem at hand long enough ... wrapping your own mind around it and doing the required work of thinking, instead of repeating what appears on your screen. True thinking is slow, so you need to slow down ... need to be alone and undisturbed by anything ... that’s when the best thinking happens.
Excellence in thinking for yourself leads to excellence in results, something every leader must have. As Albert Einstein said it: “It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer!”
Here is an excellent speech I came across during my research:
Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz