I have a client that is hell bent on building a successful business. She is a relatively new business owner and is learning as much as she can to be successful. I have to admire her enthusiasm. But there is ONE problem. Actually, the problem is actually a lack of ONE problem. Because she is learning so much, she is trying to find ways to implement everything all at ONCE and ends up being overwhelmed. This situation can occur with large companies too, and if there are several layers of management, it can be worse. This week I am going to talk about the importance of setting a priority for your business and focusing on it until completion.
Setting a Priority
You are a great leader. You’re ambitious and pride yourself on getting things done. I mean that is how you’ve been successful throughout your career. Besides, you can do anything if you make it your #1 priority, right? The truth is how many #1 priorities can you have? Answer: 1.
I’ve fallen into this trap before. I’ve sat in staff meetings, telling my team that solving this problem has to be our #1 priority. Then, I am reminded that last week we had a different #1 priority. It wasn’t that my team didn’t want to work both, or both problems weren’t important. My team knew that they only had so much energy and wanted to get the most productivity out of their time.
Proactive leadership is about looking to the future and creating a responsive vs reactive culture. Here are some common barriers to proactive leadership.
When working with large companies, I have noticed that every time there was a change in leadership a new initiative was introduced. This makes sense, the new executive wants to solve a problem and have an impact. So, the logical thing to do is to create a new initiative for improvement. But, what happens when two or three new initiatives are introduced by different executives? Or even worse, what happens when an aspiring manager is positioning themselves for an executive leadership. It can be overwhelming the number of new initiatives or priorities that can come down in a large organization.
Too many initiatives, or priorities will turn proactive leadership into reactive leadership. Your employees are busy enough with their “day jobs” and now they have to focus on half dozen new ideas? I have been in a meeting where my boss actually said, “Let’s wait and see if this sticks before taking action.” My boss decided to be reactive. He decided to wait until his lack of effort caused a problem, then he’d react to it at that point. Not only did it kill this initiative, but it killed every initiative that came afterword.
The solution is simple: Don’t overload your employees. There will always be another great idea, another market to capture, service to provide, or way to be successful. But what will kill any initiative is a start and stop momentum. When people are asked to focus on too many things, they don’t do any of them well. Choose one initiative or priority and focus until it is complete. I mean your people have enough to work on just doing their jobs. How much more can they handle?
So, the benefit of setting a priority and completing it is that you get things accomplished. You create a culture of success. Your employees know what is important today will still be important tomorrow. They, and you, will develop a habit of completing projects. There is nothing more frustrating than focusing on a project and not seeing it through to completion. Or even worse, by the time you finish something it is obsolete because it took too long because of your other priorities.
Managers and leaders in your organization can be proactive when focusing on fewer things. They know what is important and they can concentrate on completion.
This Week’s Challenge
Limit your initiatives and priorities to one or two at the most, and clearly understand which is number one and number two. Make them your focus for your weekly meetings. Avoid the temptation of chasing the next good idea. I promise when you’re done with this idea another will be waiting for you to execute.
If you would like to discuss more ways to help your business grow or if you feel you have a specific problem that needs to be addressed, please reach out to me.