[Today’s Tuesday Reading is from Jesse Voigt, Associate Director of Infrastructure, Macalester College. He is a current MOR program participant. Jesse may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
One of the most frequent frustrations I hear from leaders is that they struggle with balancing their lead/manage/do ratio.
We fall into the trap of putting out the fire that is right in front of our face as opposed to staying above the day-to-day fray and keeping our attention focused on larger strategic priorities that truly move our institutions forward.
New leaders tend to be especially susceptible to this struggle as they may be unfamiliar with their new position, still learning their job, and in the process of developing their skillsets around management and delegation to their team.
As a leader, we are paid to produce results! In order to produce those results, it is important that we take time to “get up on the balcony” and understand what our organization needs from our team.
How do we practice getting that high-level “balcony” view? How do we assure that our priorities are not falling by the wayside? If we are not instituting specific behaviors, then our strategy may be nothing more than hope. And…
“Hope is not a strategy”
To get results, we must dedicate our time and energy to specific behaviors that will drive those results.
To keep focus on MY priorities, I’ve found the most effective tool is to schedule monthly strategic planning meetings with… myself!
I have a standing meeting on my calendar, the first Monday of every month, where I spend one hour to focus on my priorities in the coming month.
I ask myself…
- What are my strategic priorities?
- What are the specific actions I will take to move these priorities forward?
- What actions will I take to connect with the people executing these priorities?
- Whose work do I want to acknowledge?
- Who will I encourage to step up, do more, and learn more?
- What messages do I want to be communicating with people?
There are two specific actions you can take to hold yourself accountable:
- “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.”
Set a specific, recurring time on your calendar to review your strategic priorities. (If you’re not already familiar with defensive calendaring, it’s time to do some research - and then practice it!)
If reviewing your strategic priorities once a month is too infrequent, review your priorities on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The specific timing isn’t important, the important part is creating a habit of reviewing your strategic priorities and sticking to it!
- “What gets measured gets managed.”
Your strategic priorities should be written down, tracked, and reviewed. There is something magical about writing down your goals as opposed to letting them rattle around in your head (and eventually forgotten!).
When doing personal strategic planning, consider working from a consistent template. Don’t recreate the wheel each time you do your strategic plan. If you don’t know where to start, start with this Personal Strategic Planning Template and modify it to best serve your needs.
Use whatever form works for you to keep focus on your priorities. Print them out, post them on your wall, keep a copy at your desk, whatever you need to keep your written priorities front and center. This document is your game-plan!
In future strategic planning sessions, start with the previous month’s written list of priorities and review them.
- What didn’t get accomplished?
- What priorities need to be modified?
- What are the next steps?
- What new priorities have come forward?
Based on these considerations, review what you need to prioritize in the following month and then review back each session. You will be amazed at how much progress you can make on your priorities and you will get insight into the importance of delegating tasks that are NOT of strategic importance.
There is tremendous value in putting effort into our personal strategic process. Nothing truly transformational happens in organizations without intentionality and effort.
Creating quality strategic habits are a way to force yourself into “getting up on the balcony”. Once you take a high-level view of your organization, you start to identify the strategic priorities that will produce impactful results.
Set a personal strategic planning schedule that works for you and write down those specific actions that will move your priorities forward. This habit will allow you to effectively communicate your plans, identify your delegation opportunities, and most importantly, act on all of it!
|From Last Week
Last week, we asked: Which voice do you identify with most?