Leaders shouldn’t just manage their time, they should marshal their time. To marshal something means to bring people or things together and organize them so they can be used effectively. Marshaling focuses effort on things that are valuable. A person can have an orderly desk, immaculate inbox, be punctual to every meeting, and still be a total time waster. While I always say any fool can be busy, I might also add that any fool can be orderly. The goal must always be productivity, not just adherence to a time management regimen. The real measure of success is the extent to which progress is made towards worthwhile pursuits.
So what constitutes a worthy pursuit? Of course, execution on the key issues in front of us is a worthy pursuit. But leaders also need to pursue a healthy amount of “BMD”: Better, More, or Different. It is essential to have a healthy dissatisfaction with the status quo. Leaders need to be continuously looking for ways to raise a performance bar (Better), increase a capability (More), or uncover a new opportunity (Different) to maintain healthy teams and organizations.
For example, (in addition to today’s urgent issues):
A sales leader’s truly worthy pursuits might include increasing revenue per salesperson (better), equipping inside sales support with more ways to assist customers (more), or finding new markets for existing products (different).
A safety leader’s worthy pursuits might include a lowered incident rate (better), more employees across the organization well-versed in safety protocols (more), or driving safety initiatives with subcontractors (different).
A CEO’s worthy pursuits might include pursuing improved engagement (better), leaders equipped with innovation skills outside of R&D (more), or redefining the value proposition of the company (different).
Other examples of “BMD”:
- Raising the capability of the team (to more effectively lead, collaborate, mentor, innovate etc.)
- Discovering and applying ways to find new clients faster
- Finding and applying new ways to delight clients
- Finding and applying ways to boost attraction of top talent
- Finding and applying ways novel ways to contribute to the community
- Exploiting opportunities that present themselves instead of simply surviving emergencies
- A leader taking the time to add new skills or improve current ones
To elevate your game, consider taking the following three steps:
- Dedicate more time to “BMD” activities. Exercise your discretion to allocate attention to higher and better purposes.
- Pick one area in which you see opportunities to do better, do more, or do different. Get creative and consider options for your team or organization in each category.
- Move with alacrity. Move quickly on at least one option that creates good value and about with you are enthusiastic.
Execution on tactical issues is critical, but be sure to marshal your time and attention on things that truly elevate the game of your organization or team. If the amount of time you are allocating is less than you would like, then re-set your priorities. Leaders often exercise less discretion than what they really have. They can allow themselves to get bogged down in the many pressing issues and miss out on the truly important.
While organizational time management tools are important methods to assist leaders, there is no substitute for focusing on high value targets. That requires judgement, clear thinking, and discipline.
Are you a busy leader that wants to elevate their game? Contact me to schedule a time to discuss your specific challenges and how I can help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 480-720-9551.