How to Answer the Dreaded “Got a Minute?

How many times a day do you think a leader is asked, “Got a minute?”

The answer is often—more often than you’d think.

When you have work to be done and goals to be met and tasks to finish, it’s easy to view a steady stream of people asking “Got a minute?” as intrusive and unwelcome. Any interruption can throw you off task and cause you to lose momentum, and after several of them resentment can set in.

On the other hand, it’s important for leaders to be available and accessible. So what can you do?

Is it possible to meet the needs of your team and respect your own time and workload. Yes, here’s how:

Say yes. This is the first principle and the most important. People come to see you because they need your support, and as a leader you need to be there for your people. People come first.

Manage your reaction. Part of being a leader is learning to have patience and being available even when you’re yelling “Noooooooooo!” on the inside. Make sure your reaction is an inviting and welcoming one. Manage your emotions and take care of people who need you.

Establish a system. A good system—one that everyone understands and follows— allows you to attend to people and still have uninterrupted time every day. The best systems give you and other leaders the perfect balance between discipline and freedom. Consider having your top-tier people come in an hour earlier than the rest of the team so you have a built-in time to confer, and empower them to deal with as much as possible on their own. Another option is to set daily open-door hours, with access at other times limited to emergencies.

Don’t make excuses. Everyone is busy, so don’t let your time crunch be an excuse. Find the time for your people and let them know they matter. Excuses are tools for incompetent leaders.

Treat time as a precious resource. Remember that the way you use time serves as a model for your entire team. Let them see you organize your time efficiently and in alignment with your priorities. Show them how to make time to be accessible. And remember to respect their time as well, by not asking them to waste it on do-nothing meetings and busywork administrative tasks.

Show that access is a privilege. When someone needs you, let them know they have your full attention. At the same time, help them understand that there will be times when someone else has that same full attention, and that your ability to focus helps you maintain a standard of excellence that benefits the entire team. When they understand this, they’ll be less likely to take access to your time for granted.

Lead from within:  “Got a minute?” It may be one of the most dreaded questions a leader can be asked, but you have to be prepared to answer it correctly.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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