One of the biggest challenges most senior leaders have is they spend their time on the wrong things.
When leaders spend their time on the wrong things often they don’t feel as passionate about their job, they don’t get as much meaning from their job, and they can let down the people that they report to and the people they interact with because they don’t have time to get to the most important things they are expected to get to.
For those leaders that get this right, when they’re working on the right things, they wake up every morning upbeat, looking forward to the day, and they walk into work knowing that they’re going to find the time to work on the stuff they really want to work on.
This is a framework to help you work on the most important things in your job as a senior leader.
The problem is this. Imagine one big circle that represents everything that you need to do in your role. What happens over time is (and it’s not your fault) that the tactical or the business as usual work, which is all these things: It’s the delivery of your product. It’s the consulting with partners and suppliers and stakeholders. It’s all the day-to-day work. All that day-to-day work takes up all your available space.
And I’ve talked about this problem before, but the tactical taking up so much of your time leaves only a tiny fraction of your time for the strategic work, which is all about creating the future and setting up processes and systems that will deliver value in the future.
When leaders get this problem wrong, when you have a job like this, it can often be that job that you don’t want to turn up to each day. It’s busy, but you’re not working on what you want to.
So how do you make a change?
The key thing is to understand your role as a senior leader: your number one focus should be to carve out more time for strategic activities. You are a leader of leaders. Your focus is not to deliver frontline services. Your focus is to carve out strategic time.
Strategic time should at least be 1/3 of your time.
One of my clients says that when his team and when his organisation is working well, 1/3 of his time is focused on moving the needle of the organisation, which is thinking about ways to improve the organisation. And you should aim to be the same.
So how do you do that?
The best way to do that is to make the portion of your time devoted to strategic bigger, to over time keep pushing this line down and making the tactical part of the bubble smaller. And you do that three ways. By delegating stuff that you don’t need to be doing anymore to your team or to others in the organisation. By automating processes that are done manually and making them automatic. You think about the business process as being automated, but what about your own personal processes? How much are you improving those so that you can save yourself time? And the third one is outsourcing. Taking process components and giving the responsibility of the delivery to other people.
Your job should be as a senior leader is to spend as much time as you can at the strategic level. People don’t teach you that, but the ones that I see succeed are the ones that are able to carve out their time. Every quarter, every 90 days, you should be aiming to remove one tactical or business as usual thing and outsource, automate it, or delegate it. And then when you’re spending the time up here in strategic, you’re starting to move the needle of the organisation.
So, the question is: is this a problem for you? Is this something you’d like to change? Are you working on the important things in your role? If the answer is no, make a list of the BAU things that you know you could either outsource, automate, or delegate, and then every 90 days aim to remove one from your plate. If you do that, you spend more time on strategic and you’ll be more successful.
I hope this can help you as a senior leader, and I’ll see you next time on The Reason & The Road.