As leaders, we all want to know how to increase the value we provide our organizations, in ways that also increase our impact and help us achieve greater influence and realize stronger results. By “increase the value” I mean consistently charting noticeable gains in both our work productivity and quality. Not many would argue with this ambition
But what if we could increase our value by doing less? Stay with me here.
Several of my current coaching clients—senior leaders who are accountable for hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars—are struggling with how to accomplish more when they know there is no way to add more time to the day. They clearly see opportunities for greater impact, yet the path to achieve these breakthroughs is either blocked or seemingly impossible to successfully traverse.
Every leader faces a myriad of choices each and every day. As leaders, we are called to recognize the current reality and be decisive in moving our organizations forward. This requires focus and the ability to assimilate information quickly and with clarity.
So, how do the most successful leaders achieve this? Consider the following methods:
- Spend The First Few Minutes Of Your Day Visualizing The Ideal Outcome – The first 10-30 minutes of a leader’s day are what set the stage or foundation for the rest of the day. This is the time when a leader establishes their “intentions” for the day. If you don’t establish your purpose and priorities, you know darn well that other people will do this for you.
I remember former golf great Jack Nicklaus ALWAYS standing a few feet behind where his ball lay on the fairway and looking ahead to where he visualized its ideal location. He would look up and down several times. He was actually “seeing” in his mind’s eye the exact flight track of the ball. Leaders can do the same thing by having a few minutes of intentional, uninterrupted time to visualize the ideal outcome of each major event in the day ahead. Setting the intention has incredible power on what your subconscious mind will work on.
- Identify 2 to3 Top Priorities Or Big Rocks For The Day– The top priorities you identify are aligned with your goals for the week, month, quarter or year. In this way, you know you are always giving yourself an opportunity to take action and advance the important goals. Allocate the exact times you will work on those priorities before you allocate time for any other activity or meeting you may have. To achieve maximum value, allocate these 2-3 crucial priorities to your most productive time of the day.
Since I am more productive in the morning, I allocate 8:30 – 10:00 each morning to work on whatever my big rocks are for the day. My Executive Assistant knows not to schedule any client appointments during this time. I turn off email and my cell phone – I sometimes actually go to a quiet room where I can do some intentional thinking or planning without the reminders of the rest of my job interrupting me.
(Note to self – practice what you are preaching here! As I am writing this during one of my morning time slots, I’ve allowed myself to be interrupted 3 times because I failed to turn off my cell phone!)
- Get Comfortable With Saying “No” 10 Times For Every “Yes”– Successful leaders have an internal motivation and drive to see others on their team succeed. They want to be responsive to the needs of others yet they must be able to balance those needs with the needs of the organization.
You are fully aware of the fact there are hundreds if not thousands of messages vying for your attention each day. And with technology as it is, those messages are ever increasing. To keep their sanity, and to experience the satisfaction of forward momentum, the most successful leaders must say no to all but a very few things. Each time you say “yes” to something involving your time, you are actually saying “no” to countless other actions or activities you could be doing instead. In other words, make sure the “yes’s” you utter are for the most impactful items possible.
These are just a small sample of some of the principles my clients have adopted. There are, of course, many other principles that can have great impact on a leader’s output.
So, my question for you today is, “What can you subtract in order to increase your value?” Give it some thought and let me know what you come up with. If you are having difficulty with this question, let me know – I’d bet if we spent some time on the phone, I could help you out!