Leaders must understand their priorities

So many things clamor for the attention of a leader in any organization. Frustrated customers demand to speak to the owner. Some members of a congregation insist that only a call from the pastor will suffice in a situation. Sales people develop strategies to see the final decision makers in the companies they call upon. Insecure mid-level managers was to run everything before the boss before making a decision. If a leader isn’t careful he or she will spend every moment they are in their office with squeaky wheels demanding attention.

Evidently, some business owners and other leaders enjoy this attention since they seem to not only tolerate it but thrive in it. What they don’t understand is that when they are giving attention to secondary issues they are not focusing in the more important matters. I agree with Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan when they write in their book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, “A leader who says ‘I’ve got ten priorities’ doesn’t know what he’s talking about – he doesn’t know himself what the most important things are. You’ve got to have these few, clearly realistic goals and priorities, which will influence the overall performance of the company.”

As the owner of a small business I understood there were times when only I could satisfy an unhappy customer, and I would attempt to do that. As a pastor there were people in our congregation who were only satisfied if I came to their hospital room so I would try to make those pastoral visits when possible. I understand these temporary side roads that occur in a leader’s life, but I never made those my priorities.

The authors of the book point out three priorities the head of an organization must address.

  1. Picking other leaders
  2. Setting the strategic direction
  3. Conducting operations

There are many things in organizations we cannot control. We can’t control the weather, the cost of fuel, regulatory changes the government imposes on us, the stock market, changes in technology that makes our technology obsolete, new competitors moving into our neighborhoods, and a host of additional issues. That’s why it’s so important to focus on the things we can control, and we do have a great deal of control over the above mentioned processes.

You won’t grow your business, a church, or any other organization without quality leaders. The owner or leader of the organization must be involved in how these leaders are recruited, hired, and trained. Aspects of each of these can be delegated to others, but the principle leader must determine the process and ensure it is followed so the best leaders can come on board.

The leader is responsible for setting and communicating the vision of the organization. He or she is also responsible to develop the strategy that will bring that vision to fruition. Goal setting and determining the Key Result Areas leading to the achievement of the goals are critical to see the vision come to pass.

Having the right leaders and a clear vision are worthless if no one is overseeing the operations of the organization. Are the right things being done, and are they being done in an effective manner? These are questions the leader needs to measure on a regular basis.

If the leader of an organization is focused on these three priorities he or she will not have time for a lot of the other issues that will try to find their way on the calendar. Understand your priorities and set your day accordingly.

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