I pride myself on being a hard worker, a smart worker, dedicated to my craft, and on top of my priorities… both professionally and personally. That’s why, this topic… A Leader’s Priority, is one of my biggest pet peeves! The only way to evolve through a pet peeve or ongoing frustrating event is to understand it better and plan with anticipation to positively manage it when it inevitably rears its head.
In any job, there will be a list of duties and expectations that come with it. The manner in which the duties and expectations are fulfilled or unfulfilled will determine your reputation. Each task has its own level of priority; some are of the utmost priority and need to be handled right away, of the utmost priority but must wait; while some are of lower priority but would benefit from being handled right away, ending with tasks of lower priority and can be handled later. All are priorities, but not all need your attention right now… nor can all of your attention be adequately given to each! Before we move on to my pet peeve and what to do… let’s take a look at The Leader’s Priority Quadrant. Where do your priorities fit and how will you move forward allowing an evolution in your leadership and work/life harmony?
- High Priority / Handle Now – This is a task or issue of monumental functional and/or financial significance impacting your company or relationship and needs to be addressed right now to either reap great reward or suffer great loss!
- High Priority /Handle Later – This is an issue of monumental significance, but there is not much you can do about it right away. Perhaps a meeting is set in the near or distant future or your work is done and you’re awaiting the work of someone else in order to move forward in the process.
- Lower Priority / Handle Now – Lower priority does not mean not important or significant; rather, your action may not produce immediate desired benefits or production, but if you put it off… it may never get done and any potential impact is missed… Example: The handwritten Thank You cards sent out to the person/family/company you sold to in order to maintain a personal touch and on-going relationship.
- Lower Priority /Handle Later – Again, lower priority doesn’t mean it’s not important and shouldn’t be addressed or completed. This category suggests you have a long list of things to do. What doesn’t fit into the other categories… ends up here. The important this to note is… you must come up with a reasonable time frame for when “Later” is. This is the list that will pile up and hurt you the most in the end. Neglected, this is a trash pile of all the hidden and minute details that help to drive a company or relationship into the ground. Fulfilled, these are the dotted I’s and crossed T’s that propel you into greatness. Note: This is the Quadrant you may want to consider delegating to others to help enhance your leadership skills and theirs!
My pet peeve is struck when leaders act as if everything that needs to be done is lumped into the High Priority/Handle Now Category! I’ve been on both sides of the fence… as an employee and as a business owner. It’s a sad day when an “Inspired and Motivated” employee burns-out because their “To-Do List” became unbearable, unrealistic, and unmanageable. The paradox is, everything is important and a priority, but everything cannot be a now priority… and great leaders know that!
As an employee, I remember being promoted to a position of leadership. I chose to hold onto some of my pre-existing responsibilities and accepted the additional duties of my new position. As the organization grew and changed; so did my responsibilities… and so did my life. I used to take work home to stay on pace; completing work at night or weekends. However, as my children grew… my free time shrank! I began compressing all of the work into a workday with a boss that believed everything was of high priority and needed to be handled now.
I was later asked why something (I can’t remember what it was) wasn’t done. It was the last straw for me. My response was, “Are you really asking why it isn’t done or are you telling me to get it done?”. I also asked, “What is/are the top one, two, or three priorities of my role?’ seeking clarification on what was the most important thing/s that needs to be done and completed. It’s very easy to become busy, but if our quadrants don’t match with our boss, employees, and mission… we will only be busy being frustrated and feeling under-appreciated. Although this led to a great open and honest conversation, I’m not suggesting you say what I said. What I am suggesting is leaders, employers, employees, and those in relationships understand that EVERYTHING cannot be of High Priority/Handle Now. So what to do?
As a leader, are you putting everything that needs to get done in the High Priority/ Handle Now Category for yourself and your people to deal with? In your business, work-life, and in your personal life where does everything fit, what needs to be addressed right away and every day, weekly, and checked-in on. Are your expectations of your people reasonable, doable, and fair? Remember… just because you’d do it, sacrificing all your time, relationships, and lifestyle for your passion… doesn’t me they need to, should have to, or that it’s their passion and dream.
Although I was under tremendous pressure and dissatisfaction in the example I used when I was an employee, I was wrong in two major areas. I chose to bring along responsibilities from my old position. Some of us have a hard time letting go. I enjoyed the hands-on task of my former position. It’s what I was great at and born to do, but the promotion was where the money was and positions of so-called glory. Note: So many are promoted into positions of leadership, not because they know how to lead, but because they do one thing great; later to cause a communication and culture problem within organizations. As an employee, I owed it to my company to put my ego aside and allow them to be aware the additional duties were negatively impacting me. I also could have done a better job of putting my staff in the right-seats to match their superpowers. Being open, honest, and delegating appropriately is the key to protecting yourself and your people from Burn-Out!
Secondly, I could have beat my company to the punch by offering a suggested solution to the problem. Emerging leaders listen up… instead of complaining, gossiping and earning your Negative Nick or Nancy Badge… constructively address only the people that can help and make a difference. Also, accompany your problem with a suggested solution. When I became a business owner, this became one of my “3 Rules”. I trusted my staff to know their craft and their audience and was willing to listen to problems… but only if they were accompanied with suggested solutions. Either my socks would be blown-off due to their feedback and we’d go with their solution, we’d compromise on an idea, or I’d explain why we couldn’t move forward due to bigger-picture issues they may have not been aware of. Either way… I was open to being aware, they were heard, and we improved!
If you or someone is living in High Priority/ Handle Now Mode they tend to be high stress and anxious most of the time. If this individual chooses to either put their ego aside to speak to you positively and maturely or if they blew up on you due to stress and you’ve resolved it… please follow-up! This is a step that can easily fall into the Lower Priority/Handle Later Quadrant because you may not think it’s a big deal and you can push it off until their annual review, but it will mean a lot to them. Perhaps it’s a Lower Priority/Handle Now as you decide to ask how everything is, how they are handling the workload, if there’s anything they need from you, and speak their Leader’s 7 Langauge (explained later in this book). This is bonding, evolving, and leadership!
Whether you’re in a position of leadership within an organization, team, or leading your own life and relationship… you have your priorities, other people have there’s… do they match? Are your people aware of yours? Are you are of theirs? The saddest and one of the most common reasons for the demise of professional or personal relationships is when both parties are motivated, willing, and moving full-speed ahead doing things they think are important to the other person… and it’s not.
“The paradox is, everything is a priority but everything cannot be a now priority… great leaders know that.” – Andre Young
Enhance Leadership and Work/Life Harmony for your Organization, your Employees, Teams, and in your Life with You Evolving Now at www.youevolvingnow.com Get your copy of 7 Ways to Lead at https://www.amazon.com/Ways-Lead-Professionally-Personally-Leadership/dp/1631950916/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=9781631950919&qid=1586201628&sr=8-1