Executives today spend the majority of their time checking emails and attending meetings. For many this is a natural evolution of the modern world. But according to Richard Jolly, a professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School and an executive coach, it means they often suffer from “hurry sickness”.

What exactly is hurry sickness?
I’ve been gathering data on around 2,000 executives a year for the past 10 years, which show more than 95 per cent of executives have this affliction. It [involves] spending all your time rushing around doing things, without any ability to stand back and focus on your key priorities. And I think there are three main reasons for this. The first one is facilitated by technology: we are now overwhelmed by emails, meetings and conference calls. The second one is that organisations have become much more complex than ever before. The third is that the skills necessary to be a leader have fundamentally shifted in the past few years: the way you became successful as an executive is through what we call human capital — your knowledge and expertise.

What are the main symptoms?
There are a whole load of them. If you are microwaving something just for 30 seconds, [for example], you have to do something else while you wait for it to ping. You know the fastest route to the airport and you are a master of airport management.

How can you avoid this?
If you are really going to develop as a leader, you have to invest time in listening and asking questions to create a much more collaborative way of working.


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