The environment is shape-shifting. The only long-term constants are uncertainty and change. Your ability to foresee the future is limited. You have to set priorities. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. This KEY offers a case-in-point solution to the eternal question of the leadership priorities. You will discover how one highly successful leader prioritizes his time.
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A Leader's Priorities
How do you prioritize your time? Where do you focus your energy? These are the questions any good leader asks daily. Time, energy and focus are your three most precious assets. You create movement and results in your organization by applying energy and focus in the time you have. You lead by applying your ETF - Energy, Time and Focus. This is your most critical leadership choice and decision, how do you allocate these precious assets?
Lead by demonstrating your priorities.
"You are leading an organization of a few thousand people. What priorities guide you in allocating your precious time, energy and focus?" This was the question I asked the General Manager. We approached the last stage of a six-month strategy effort to shape the future of his organization. Fifty executives and directors had intensively engaged in a three-day event to co-create the future of the organization. They had grappled with questions critical to their future success: How do we differentiate? In what way do we need to change our work processes? How will we apply technology in the future? What opportunities are available for us to create additional value? What is the optimal organizational structure? How will we attract the best talent? It was appropriate in this context to ask the General Manager about his priorities. The GM did not blink. He fired back his response almost before I completed my question. Obviously he had wrestled with the question of allocating his time, energy and focus to optimally achieve his business and organizational objectives. His mind was made up. It was clear that he had throughout his career as a leader in a variety of roles continuously refined his mastery of this most important leadership challenge.
In a world of tremendous change and uncertainty, a confident leader with clear priorities is a huge asset. A clear set of priorities lets your people know what's important for you. It takes second-guessing out of the equation. Demonstrating clear priorities on a daily basis is how a leader produces credibility and trust and creates the good hum of a highly engaged and focused organization.
The Fifty Percent
The General Manager's reply was definitive: "Fifty percent of my time is devoted to developing the talent of our organization. Twenty five percent I devote to important strategic issues that will influence the future of our business and to connecting these dots. And the remaining 25% is dedicated to running the day-to-day business."
My follow up question was: "How much of the 50% dedicated to talent do you directly spend on mentoring and coaching your teams and people? "About half," he said.
There you have it. A strategic and enlightened leader and how he shapes his priorities. He is guided by a simple premise and insight. The strategic imperative of a senior leader is to grow and develop the leaders of tomorrow. Developing talent and building leadership depth and readiness is a central mission of successful senior executives!
Now it's your turn. Turn the Key. Prioritize your ETF - Energy, Time and Focus to shape your future and the future of your organization. Help your people grow and develop. Catalyze and foster versatile, capable and agile groups of leaders. As parents, as community leaders and as business leaders we are called to help prepare and encourage the next generation of leaders. The legacy we create is drafted by the opportunities we help to open for those that come after us.
© Aviv Shahar