5 Reasons Effective Leaders Never Say, “I’m So Busy”

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In a world that has attached a strange nobility to the notion of being busy, effective leaders stand out by avoiding the “I’m so busy” trap.

Not long ago I casually asked a leader how he was doing. His response? He smiled and said, “My plate is full.”

In other words, he had learned to avoid the “I’m so busy” trap.

You’ll never hear an effective leader get caught in the “I’m so busy trap” because they know it can actually communicate something quite different than they intended…

“I’m so disorganized…”

Some people attach a misplaced sense of nobility to the notion of being busy.

But in a lot of cases that frantic pace is just a reflection of poor organization skills and lack of focus.

“I don’t have clear goals…”

Without clear goals, a precise strategy and iron-clad priorities it’s easy to just run around from one disjointed activity to the next.

It might look like hard work, but in many cases it’s just squandered energy.

“I can’t build teams…”

Show me someone who keeps telling everyone they’re busy, and I’ll show you someone who might not have team-building skills.

Because leaders who know how to build, empower and motivate teams also know how to spread the work around.

“I’ve mismanaged this project…”

Nothing will bring out the “I’m so busy” chants quite as fast as a project that has been allowed to run amok.

Rather than fessing up, some people will simply grab onto the “I’m so busy” lifeline.

“I’m just trying to impress people…”

Let’s face it.

Our culture has hoisted the notion of “busy” onto such a pedestal that many people have simply learned to mimic the “I’m so busy” mantra merely as a status symbol.

So keep your goals clear, your projects in-line and your teams on task.

You’ll not only be more productive, but you’ll also avoid the “I’m so busy” trap.


the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.


  1. Good word — was pondering a similar thought this morning…”the world is led by busy people” — which made me wonder why we feel like we need to lead with “I am so busy in our interactions” — good reminder.

  2. Isn’t this post so true!!!! I used to have a saying that I loved to use “it’s better to be busy than bored” and then I realized that was just a brag and a result that I didn’t empower enough people. I tell my staff now that if their phones are going off constantly and they are running ragged it is a result of not building their team around them to run more efficient!

  3. Michael, I think you nailed it with the “team building” concept. As I noted in the post, this is one of the dead giveaways when I see someone running ragged. My immediate concern is that they may need help in their team building capacity. Thanks for weighing in.

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