3 Leadership Practices To Prioritize Your Time And Energy
The most important decision a leader makes is how to invest their most valuable resources: Time and Energy.
One of the biggest challenges I hear from leaders is finding enough time to focus on the most strategic parts of their roles.
Too often, leaders feel overwhelmed by having to respond to the constant barrage of urgent issues that end up consuming most of their time and energy, leaving them scrambling to find “extra” time to try to achieve the most important responsibilities of their role.
The dilemma often sounds like this: “I know this is important, but I am already spread too thin and…”
- I spend all of my time in meetings.
- My employees are always at my door.
- Our customers are constantly coming to me with …
- Leadership is continually giving us new projects without new resources.
- I have 500 unread emails in my inbox.
These 3 Leadership Practices enable leaders to address their daily workload demands while building insufficient time and energy to accomplish their most important goals.
1) In versus On the Business
A useful way for leaders to look at their role is through the lens of In and On the Business. The In the Business activities are the day-to-day operational aspects of their leadership role.
These are the urgent activities that come to the leader’s door and, if they let them, it will devour all available energy and time. The On the Business activities are the more strategic leadership responsibilities of their role.
These responsibilities are focused on long-term success, establishing culture, developing employees, and innovation. These are responsibilities that the leader is the only person on the team that can effectively perform.
Each leadership role has its continuum of On vs. In the Business responsibilities that are important to complete. A leader has to define what must be done or nothing else they achieve will matter.
2) Learn To Say No
In our busy and complex world, leaders will often bring the mindset that everything is of critical importance and merits the highest priority. The unfortunate truth with this mindset is that if everything is a priority then nothing is a priority.
A leader must learn to say NO or push back against the inevitable onslaught of urgent activities that will constantly derail them from focusing on the most important leadership activities.
This does not mean that the leader is not responsive to urgent requests; it just means they do not do it at the expense of accomplishing their most important goals.
Leaders must feel empowered to say “No” to good projects, tasks, and requests that steal their energy and focus away from accomplishing their most important priorities.
Leaders must be responsive to urgent requests, just not at the expense of moving forward their most important goals. The most effective leaders learn to, “Use their Noes to protect their Yeses”.
3) Lead Through Coaching
Almost all leaders rise to leadership positions because of their ability to problem-solve and get things done. Too often, when employees come to leaders with their routine challenges, the leader will immediately jump into solving the problem for them.
The strategic mindset shift for leaders is understanding that success in their role is no longer to be the chief problem-solver.
Success as a leader is all about empowering others, developing employees, and building strong relationships for ongoing team success. The primary tool to accomplish this mindset shift is COACHING.
A simple and practical framework for coaching is Sir John Whitmore’s GROW model. GROW is an acronym that helps guide leaders to coach others towards resolving challenges or issues.
Goals – Questions to uncover the issue and desired outcome: What do you want to accomplish? What are the primary issues or challenges?
Reality – Questions to uncover their perspectives: Tell me more about the situation? What is getting in the way of success?
Options – Questions to generate possibilities and solutions: What are your ideas for the next steps? How do you think you should move forward?
Way Forward – Questions to define actions and accountability: What are your next steps? How will you keep me informed of progress?
Leading with questions does not stop the leader from sharing their experience, insight, or direction. Questions do allow the leader to understand the employee’s perspectives before making a more informed choice about what input is needed to support the employee’s success.
Success as a leader requires one to focus on accomplishing the most strategic aspects of their role while also managing urgent day-to-day issues. Mastering these 3 Leadership Practices will help leaders to elevate their leadership focus.