What are your priorities?

As leaders we need to manage our time effectively and focus on what matters. Determining your business priorities is critical to success, especially in these trying times! When we create focus for ourselves and our teams, we achieve exponential performance.

So many leaders fail to take the time to plan and prioritise their tasks, projects, and strategies to align with what really matters. Many argue they don’t have time. But this is a circular argument, as you spend more wasted time and energy than you would have done to prioritize planning!

That means whole teams and businesses waste energy, burnout and become overwhelmed. More importantly, where we are working virtually or in a hybrid environment, communication and focus need to be substantially increased.

Constant wasted time, effort and change on projects or activities that go nowhere have a major impact on everyone’s motivation and engagement.

The secret to being strategic and time effective is to determine what matters and then focus on prioritising your teams and business to this. You need to be clear on what you will say no to!

Time is our most precious asset, so manage it well for high performance, customer satisfaction, business performance and engagement of your team. So take this time and space to reflect on how you will spend your time today, this week, this month and the rest of this year.


Here are some key things to remember:

  • Where are attention goes, energy flows
  • How we allocate our assets is a clear indication of what our business and personal priorities are. 
  • How we split the budget shows everyone what projects are strategically important. 
  • How we treat our people indicates where our values lay. 
  • Where we put our time shows others what we care about. 
  • Strategy is more about what you say no to that what you say yes to.

Have you ever heard a Leader profess that they are dedicated to personal and professional development, yet when the training budget is slashed, or allocated elsewhere?

Likewise, a leader can talk endlessly about the need to adapt to the ‘new normal’ of Covid-19. Yet if they are still managing the same way they did prior to covid, this is actually tells others that there is a lack of adaption and innovation!

So what is on your to-do list today?

Take a few minutes to cast your eye over your plan for the day and reflect upon the following questions:

* How many things on the list are about execution? That is, getting things’ done’ and improving the performance of things you are already doing. Execution tasks include planning, allocating resources, monitoring performance, solving technical problems and modifying activities to get closer to a set goal or desired outcome.

* How many items on your list are about learning? Learning activities include identifying and testing assumptions and reviewing the conceptual frameworks that inform strategy. It focuses on creating a workplace of psychological safety and openness, sharing knowledge and stimulating ideas. Learning activities include reflecting on the context and processes, undertaking experiments, identifying critical questions and developing scenarios.

* How many actions are about leading? So often this is the lowest on the list, which is intriguing given leading is implicit in the leader title. How much time are you spending on 121’s, team meeting, cadence? In lockdown, your leading should be at least 60% of your time, depending on the level of competence of your team. Checking-in, supporting and coaching is undervalued by many leaders. This sends a very clear message to your employees about how important they are to you? Are you creating a reciprocal value proposition: great leadership = highly engaged, committed and motivated team.

* How many actions on your list are about your wellbeing and growth and the team’s? Do you have any time scheduled today for the critical work about caring for your energy and building your capacity for creativity, transformation, or innovation? Is there space allocated to help you become the leader that lives and models the priorities you espouse? If so, are these things at the bottom of the list? Do you know how your team members are faring? What are their challenges and concerns? What are they doing to help their mental health? Or are they done in the quiet hours when everyone else has gone home, and only after the other activities have been completed?

Every organisation right now is in a crisis. Yours might be impacted directly by the loss of revenue, new logistical problems or continual disruptions to your workforce. If you are lucky to escape these direct hits, you still have to manage a dire economic outlook and an uncertain business environment over at least the medium term. You still have to support staff who are experiencing all manner of new personal and professional challenges.

Responding to a crisis is both urgent and important, and therefore should be uppermost on your list of tasks for the day. Given just how volatile, uncertain and complex the Covid-19 world is, it requires all leaders to shift their priorities from execution to learning. The business context has changed dramatically, and so the management practices and business processes need to adapt. The focus needs to pivot from solving technical problems to dealing with adaptive challenges. It is about turning the priority from finding all the answers, to creating the right questions.

However, you can only support your people adapt to this new situation if you have the insight, capabilities and systems in place to learn and grow yourself. Right now, adaptive leadership is crucial and being an adaptive leader requires consciousness, courage and compassion for self and others. The energy and openness you bring to this time will define you and can make or break your team’s ability to survive and thrive.

So, how much time today have you allocated to making sure you are ready to lead through this crisis?

This article is intended to provide commentary and general information only. It should not be relied upon as comprehensive or legal advice. Formal legal advice may be necessary, in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this article. The HR Experts International is not responsible for the results of any actions or inactions taken on the basis of information in this article, nor for any error or omission in this article.