Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

“You got a Minute?” – How to say ‘no’

June 1st, 2016 by John Gallagher 1 Comment



How many times a day does someone come to you and ask “Do you have a minute?” Of course you say ‘yes’, right?  How many times does that minute actually last a minute?  Normally one turns into 5 or 10 AND you end up with another assignment.  Why can’t we say no?

  • “I don’t want to hurt the other’s feelings”
  • “I have an open door policy”
  • “It’s only a minute”
  • “What if it is important?”

I have heard all of these things and more as a coach.  One of these distractions a day isn’t bad.  Five to 10 times day can lead to significant lost time.  What are some ways to reduce or minimize these distractions without coming across as rude?

  1. Communicate ‘open hours’ – It seems a bit odd, but an open door policy does not mean 24/7.  You can actually schedule your hours.
  2. Close your door and use visual management to let your team know when you will be available.
  3. Say ‘no’, but with grace.  “I am sorry.  I do not have a minute right now.  However, I will be available at 4:00.  If this is not an emergency (there sometimes are emergencies), can we sit down then?  Please have my assistant schedule a time for us.” This response respects the person who came in AND it respects your time as well!

I know.  This is easier said than done, but if you want to improve your productivity, you will have to learn the skill of saying ‘no’ respectfully

What ways have you used to help reduced the “Do you have a minute?” distractions?


February 15th, 2016 by John Gallagher No Comments


Is it a song?

Is it a verse?

Is it a picture?

Is it a goal?

Is it a person?

For me, it is situational, for sure.  I am always in search of inspiration.

This weekend, I found that inspiration in my brother, Michael Gallagher.  He has persevered.  He is a survivor!  Michael was born with a congenital heart defect that was detected during a routine sports physical before he turned 10 years old.  Essentially, this ended his sports career before he ever got started.  Since then, Michael has had three surgeries to repair (and replace!) the defect.  This weekend, Michael was honored by the Roanoke Heart Association at their annual Heart Ball as a survivor.  Here he is with us on that night.  He is the TALL one, even though I still call him my ‘little’ brother.


He has persevered.  He has been given clean bill of health and now is  a referee of the sport he loves most.  He is a husband, a son, a brother, an uncle, and friend.  He IS an inspiration to me!

What (Or Who) inspires you?


January 30th, 2016 by John Gallagher No Comments



Facebook has a really cool tactic to get you to engage more… Memories:

facebook memories

You click on it and it takes you back to posts from that date in the past.  Most of the time, those are good memories, some challenging, but likely ones where we were sharing something we learned or accomplished.

Can we do that to improve our leadership skills?  Don’t you wish you had a “Your positive leadership memories” button to push to go back to times where you had successful personal leadership moments?

I often encourage others to create a ‘Why’ folder.  A place to store reminders of good leadership moments.   It shouldn’t just be a folder, though, that makes us feel good when we are down, although that helps.  But, when we look back on memories (both positive and challenges), there are lessons to be learned and questions to be asked.  I believe the most important questions to ask when reviewing those positive memories would be:

  1. What was I ‘doing’ at that moment that helped me to achieve that success?
  2. Who was I ‘being’ at that moment that helped me to achieve that success?
  3. How can I use what I was doing and being then to achieve success in the PRESENT moment?

Maybe someone some day will create an app that pops up memory reminders for our positive leadership moments.  Maybe one exists and I don’t know it.  Either way, be intentional on reviewing those memories, learning from them, and driving continuous improvement as a leader.

What are your thoughts?



December 22nd, 2015 by John Gallagher 7 Comments



2015 is about to come to a close.  The hustle of the end of the year crunch, whether it be at home or work, will make it difficult for leaders to prepare for 2016.

2015 16 switch

For leaders to continuously grow into the future, it is important that they reflect on their past performance.  Deep personal reflection is one of the most powerful tools in a leader’s toolkit.

Find some time to reflect.  You will be glad you did.    Find your favorite chair and your favorite journaling device, block off 2 hours on your busy calendar, and answer these 5 simple questions about your leadership  to wind down 2015 and prepare for 2016:

1. What went well in 2015? – I am sure things went well.  Write them down and recognize those things.  Too often as leaders, we run right to the negative.

2. What could have gone better in 2015? – This list is important, also, and often it is the longer of the two lists.

Don’t rush these first two questions.  Write or type until you can’t really think of anything else.  Review your calendar from the past year to trigger thoughts.  After you feel you have thoroughly answered the first two questions, move to questions 3 through 5:

3.  What do I need to KEEP doing in 2016? There are things that are going well for you.  Capitalize and leverage those things into 2016.

4. What do I need to START doing in 2016? As part of the challenge, there are things that you may need to start doing to improve your leadership.

5.  What do I need to STOP doing in 2016? – Last time I checked, there are still only 24 hours in a day.  If we are going to start doing new things, then we must STOP doing things as well.  This is one of a leader’s greatest challenges.

Try this out and let me know how it goes.  

Four D’s to free up 20% of your time

December 2nd, 2015 by John Gallagher No Comments



Have you ever really sat down and looked at your schedule and it felt so overwhelming that you just wanted to ‘give up’, delete it all and start over?


As leaders, we often find it difficult to say ‘no’ to people for many reasons.  Mostly because we really don’t want to upset anyone, but a lot of times, it is because everything seems important.  Well, is it really?  Here is an exercise you can do to help you understand if you have the right things on your calendar.  I have often referred to it as the “4 D’s”

  1. Delegate
  2. Defer
  3. Deselect
  4. Do-it!

Make a list of all of the things you think you must do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  With that list in hand, ask your self the following four questions for each item:

  1. Can I DELEGATE this item to someone else to do?  Often we don’t delegate because “it will take me more time to train someone so I will do it myself”, or “I want it done a certain way so I must do it” – Both of these reasons are signs of poor leadership.  One of the best ways to develop others is to give them valuable tasks to grow, so Delegate more.
  2. Can I DEFER this item?  Is it REALLY the most important thing you need to be doing at this time?  Can it wait 30 days, 60 days, 90 days?  Often it can.  Put a reminder on your calendar for 90 days out.  Maybe it won’t be as important then
  3. Can I DESELECT this item? Have you been doing something for so long (a meeting, a report, a task) that you just do it because you always have?  Maybe you don’t need to do it anymore at all.  DESELECTING is the most difficult task of leadership.  A good friend has told me many times, “You can do anything you want, you just can’t do everything you want”
  4. I guess I must DO it? – If your answer to the first 3 questions is NO, then you must do it!  Put it on the calendar and make it happen.  The challenge here is to do the task with the least non-value-added activity.  Can I automate it?  Can I be more efficient at it?  Improve the task.

Go through this process about every 90 days.  If you haven’t freed up 20% of your time, then you are not being critical enough of the tasks.  Go back through it again?

What about you?  How do you make sure your schedule doesn’t get overburdened?  Try this exercise and let me know how it goes.