Several weeks ago, I shared with you the reason why it was important to follow up with your clients and potential clients. I also told you I would be sharing a new tip with you every Wednesday. Well, it is three weeks later, which proves even the Coach needs to juggle priorities every now and then, which leads me to my tip for this week… Priority Management: Taking the LEAD.
A priority is a choice between two competing “goods” given a finite span of time. As simplistic as this may seem, we often miss a subtle point, which is a priority is not a choice between a good and a bad, only one of which should be done. In fact, priority management is a choice between two real goods, both of which need to be done, but done in the right order.
Without clear priorities, you will struggle to set goals and accomplish your mission because everything will seem equally important. You won’t know how to most effectively spend your time and energy. Similarly, when your team doesn’t have clear priorities, individual members will struggle to coordinate their efforts. They will feel overwhelmed by all the work coming their way, and the team will generally lack an understanding of what needs to be accomplished.
As an International Business Strategist and Leadership Coach, I travel extensively. As a matter of fact, I am preparing to attend an international conference in Dubai in several weeks to focus on expanding my businesses even more. To say that I must prioritize effectively to continue to meet the needs of my clients here in the United States, as well as my international clientele, is a gross understatement, BUT IT CAN BE DONE!
Here are a few tools to help you take the lead thru prioritizing:
Like chewing your food, to allow it to digest properly, you must chop it up into bite-sized pieces. Manage your priorities in the same way. Break the larger project(s) down into smaller tasks and assignments that are clear, concrete, and actionable, so that everyone knows exactly what to do. Create no room for guessing but do create opportunities for your team to share feedback.
Separate the tasks into most and less critical projects, e.g. identify what needs to get done immediately vs. what can wait until tomorrow. If everything needs to be done today, you aren’t prioritizing well because at the end of a very long day, busy is a four-letter word; productivity means you are one step closer to realizing your goals. Many leaders avoid doing what they should be doing, drawn by being busy rather than doing the important things that sustain the health and performance of your business. Remember it this way… time is like the spouse, not the enemy, of your priorities.
Allocate the necessary time to complete your work. This will dictate that you make an accurate estimate of how much time it will take you to complete a given task. Without accurate time estimates, it is difficult to plan your work and complete it on schedule. It takes at least 30 days for a behavior to become a habit. To turn this behavior into a habit, practice this exercise: Add a task to your to-do list, then estimate the time it will take you to complete the task. You already know how many hours are in a day, so this should be an easy exercise. Sometimes as leaders we forget to ask how much time is available to complete a task. Understanding time expectations will help you determine the priority sequence. Too many leaders fail simply because they take their eye off the clock.
When prioritizing projects or tasks, be clear about why they are priorities. Make your rationale for the decision clear to yourself and others on your team. Managing priorities is crucial to implementing new business strategies or aligning your team with an existing one. The same is true for situations when you are charged with improving products and services.
Successful leaders visualize how the moving and individual parts (people, process, technology, and so on) come together to create the whole. To understand that, you must see how the various parts of the organization are performing together. Performance is always a function of time. The hour hand of the clock may represent those qualities necessary to form communication amongst the parts.
The minute-hand of the clock may represent the measurable intensity of those qualities. So,
for you, as a leader to prioritize, you must have a coherent understanding of how the parts work together and fit into the whole at the right level of intensity to be harmonious.
The hours of the clock cannot work without the minutes of the clock. To understand what makes your business tick, you must understand the tock. Performance determines if you are winning or losing in priority management. By making a habit of managing priorities, you will be well on your way to improving your skill as a leader.
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