In early 2017, I left a 20-year career in the City of London. I'd had enough. I couldn't stand it any more, it felt toxic and it wasn't just me. On my daily commute, I would stare out of the train window, using noise-cancelling earphones, desperately trying to block out the noise around me.
As I walked down Old Broad Street one morning, It was filled with miserable people on their dull silent march to work. When I got to the office, it was the same. Then I noticed it on the train on the way home, it was everywhere.
I thought it was a failure of leadership. Despite the many millions of pounds that had been spent on leadership development, there seemed no more leaders than 20 years ago. Anytime we heard the word 'leadership' it was usually in the context of 'poor leadership'.
I started my own company to help businesses finally find an answer the 'leadership culture' problem. "I'm too busy to talk", would come the answer, time and time again. But was it an excuse or the truth. It was frustrating, all I was trying to do was help.
I had to create an approach that would give people back some time to talk. It had two-steps, and was based on an approach I had used when running a large organisation. But it caught people's attention.
Having opened the door, I gained an insight into people's diaries and the reasons they gave for the things that made them so busy. I made a profound discovery. Managers' lack of leadership wasn't because they didn't value it, it was because they already thought they were doing it!
They thought that working evenings and weekends, micro-managing, doing things themselves, "...because it's just quicker if I do it.", cancelling holiday and training because of looming deadlines, and not spending time with friends and family wasleadership. They were filling their days with it. No wonder all that money spent on leadership development had gone to waste.
It wasn't their fault though. Leadership wasn't taught formally, at school, college or university. We got our first taste when we got to work. The problem is that we learnt it from those who were there first, and they weren't taught it either. We'd passed down our experiences from generation to generation without realising the damage we were doing.
It should have been obvious. I'd seen a survey that said 65% of people surveyed said they would forego a pay-rise in favour of seeing their manager sacked!!
I realised that people weren't leading because they were too busy, and they were too busy because they didn't realise what they're doing with their time. I'd had enough! I decided to show them. Three more steps were added, and the Diary Detox® was born. I had created something that not only gave people back their time, but also gave them a thirst for leadership.
The look on people's faces when the colours are turned on, and their diary becomes a heat-map, is priceless. I feel excited, because I know that they finally see what I see. They see what they are doing for the first time. I know that their frustration is finally over and they'll never look at their diary (and their time) the same way again.
They all now know what they are doing. The question is, what are you doing?