Here’s a list of things that we, as leaders and managers, know are important, yet most of us don’t do enough of (see if this rings true for you):
1. Developing strategy – spending time talking to people inside and outside the business, trying to envision the future and pulling together your organisation’s best guess as to what will be a winning strategy.
2. Communicating strategy – simplifying the organisation’s strategy and making sure that it is understood and engaged with at all levels of the organisation and that the sum of each individual’s and team’s goals adds up the overall goals of the organisation.
3. Developing teams – regularly (not necessarily frequently or for long meetings) engaging with your teams in such a way that they feel like they are up to something together and that the trust needed to work well together is growing.
4. Developing people – spending one to one time with your direct reports to get joint clarity on their goals and how they fit into the organisation, to grow their sense of responsibility for those goals and to support them as their line manager in the most appropriate way so that you can eventually delegate fully to them.
5. Listening to the market – talking to your customers (internal and/or external) and finding out what they think of your organisation or your team so that you can go back and fix any problems and / or add services / products to better suit their needs.
In my experience of working with hundreds of leaders, everyone knows these things are critical to their success, yet very few actually do enough of them.
Why? Well, put very simply, they can all be put off until tomorrow. None of them will take the organisation down if we put them off another day. Yet every day we put them off and don’t prioritise them is putting the organisation into further danger.
The solution is simple. You need to programme in some regular time out to reflect on whether you are doing enough of the important things.
How? Well, you can put in a repeating diary reminder (say, once a quarter) to check in with yourself that you are spending enough time on these important things. You can start each senior management team going over a checklist of whether you are all doing enough of the above. You can join a programme like The Leadership Team (just 2 hours a month in the company of 12 to 15 other leaders). You can get an executive coach (most leaders I work with find once a quarter or once every 2 months is helpful). You can do whatever works for you…just make sure that you have a mechanism in place for making sure that stuff that can be put off until tomorrow is not put off until next month / year!