Who Is Parking In Your (Head) Space?

Who Is Parking In Your (Head) Space?
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

Often CEO’s will have a reserved parking spot.

This is not about privilege or power; it is about productivity.   The CEO needs to park in that spot so she can focus her mind on who and what matters most, not on trying to find a spot.  By intentionally parking in the right spot, she actually serves her team by giving them greater focus and energy.

But what happens when someone parks in your spot?  When you pull up to start your day and discover a squatter in your space?

I’m talking about those thoughts, those questions, those tasks, and those concerns that pull into your head space where they have no right to be.  

  • They occupy your mind. 
  • They drain your energy.
  • And worst of all, these squatters are crowding out your legitimate vehicle; the thoughts, questions, and concerns, that SHOULD be your reserved focus.  What you paid to actually do.


Inevitably when I am working with a Point Leader, we get to the question, “who’s parking in your space?”

…and equally inevitably, we begin to discover squatters taking up their space, limiting their leadership, effectiveness, and success.

Listen, as a Point Leader, you carry one of the most challenging roles in business.  And that challenge is only increasing as you navigate new worlds of exponential change, workplace wellness, diversity and inclusion, post-Covid recovery–and we haven’t even mentioned the unknown of AI!

Worst of all, leaders like you often carry this weight alone, isolated in your decision making.

When it comes to your Point Leader focus, how do you make sure you are parked in your reserved space?

McKinsey and Company recently dove into research with over 2,400 of the world’s best CEO’s from around the world to ask: What are the mindsets that distinguish the best leaders from among the rest.  Check out their work HERE.

But before identifying those mindsets, they had to ask, “What key roles do CEO’s actually do?  What are the responsibilities CEO’s cannot hand off; they have to own them?”

They identified 6 non-negotiable roles.  Chief Executives::

  • Set the Direction  
  • Align the Organization
  • Mobilize through Leaders
  • Engage the Board
  • Connect with Stakeholders
  • Manage Personal Effectiveness

This list lines up with my experience with the Point Leaders I work with.  They are asking questions like:

  • How do I set and communicate a clear and compelling vision and road map to get there? 
  • How can I assess our culture and align it with what we need to get where we are going?
  • How do I develop leaders that lead leaders?
  • How can I have a High Functioning Board that knows how to manage me?
  • How do develop trusted relationships with key stakeholders outside the organization?
  • How do I lead myself so I can best lead others.

These are the spaces that should be reserved for your leadership. If you pull up and anything else is squatting in your space, it needs to be towed.

How do you begin to ensure no one else is parking in your head space?

Let me offer a start.

1. Identify your space.  What are the 6 roles only YOU can carry?  You cannot delegate them, hand them off, or ignore them.  McKinsey and Company make a compelling case for what those 6 should be, but customize them for your context.  Be sure to use language that activates you.

Pro Tip: Confirm this list with your own board.  Get them 100% on board with your 6 roles.  If you don’t feel comfortable with this conversation, that’s a strong assessment that Board Engagement should be in your top six.

2. Reserve Your Spot.  Based on your context, how would you prioritize these your leadership?  Remember, the proof of prioritization lies in where you devote your time, energy, and money.  How would you ideally divvy up your calendar, your thoughts, and your resources?  

Pro Tip:  Consider the season you are in, and the one you are about to enter.  These percentages often shift depending on the focus or need of the season.

3. Check for Squatters.  Audit your last month’s calendar, budget.  To review your energy, try this energy audit.  How are you ACTUALLY aligning your life around who and what matters most?  Where are there squatters that have crept in?

Pro Tip:  Confirm your findings with your Executive Admin.  They will know the reality how you are REALLY investing your time.

4. Park your car first.  Squatters cannot steal your spot if your car is already there.  So populate your schedule with your priorities.  This means you are going to have to hand off.  You will have to decide to delegate.  This will require ruthlessness, but you have to do it.  Because every moment a squatter is occupying your leadership life, you are neglecting the key roles that only you can carry as the CEO.

Pro Tip:  If you have not brought your Board in yet, now is the time.  You NEED Board backing because ruthlessly pursuing your priorities will ruffle feathers and upset expectations.  You need alignment and support…and you need them to hold you accountable to keep focused on what you (and they) have identified the company needs you to do.

Squatters take up space, take up energy, take up your leadership.  Take them back by evicting the squatters and reinstating the rightful roles that only YOU can carry.

Who is parking in YOUR space?

Photo by Chelaxy Designs on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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