What Good Leaders Refuse To Give Away.

What Good Leaders Refuse To Give Away.
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

Are you a reactive leader or a proactive leader?

Reactive leaders react to the needs of the team around them.  They are quick to respond to texts and emails, quick to drop their projects and priorities to come to the aid of a needy staffer, and quick to solve problems for others.

If this is you, everyone will love you, but you are hurting your organization. Find out why HERE.

Proactive leaders know that for them to best serve their team, they have to lead themselves well.  This means they put their mask on first, they do whatever they need to do to show up emotionally, physically, mentally strong.  

And proactive leaders refuse to give this one thing away:  Their Focus.  

My wife coaches leaders into protecting their focus.  She uses this image:

Imagine I gave you a briefcase with $1,000,000 in cash and asked you to hold it for me over the weekend.  How would you carry that case?  Would you leave it on a park bench while you played soccer?  Would you ask the guy at the coffee shop to watch it for you while you run to the restroom?  Or, would you protect that as if your LIFE depended on it?
What you have determined your focus should be as a leader is as valuable as a suitcase full of cash.  Protect it!--Jessica Thompson

She’s right.  Leaders refuse to give their focus away.  Here is one way they practice this:

Leaders protect their focus when they schedule their priorities.

The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. Stephen Covey

Now, don’t get me wrong, people would LOVE for you to give that away.  They would LOVE to schedule the priorities of a reactive leader.  They would LOVE to have your day centered around what they need.  

But they are not able to uncover what your priorities CAN and SHOULD be, and help you lead yourself to operate out of them.

Stephen Covey says that the key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. To start each week, each day identifying what your job requires of you to lead, and shuffling the deck until these items come first.

This doesn’t mean you are unresponsive to your team’s needs.  It means you focus on doing what your team and the organization MOST needs for your role, focusing on those first.  This will actually make you better and anticipate and respond to the needs of your team.  Or, if done right, will help them learn to grow and lead themselves through most of their own needs.

No one will do this for you; you must do this for yourself.  How?

1. Ask yourself:  What are the five things only I can do in this organization?  

If your answer has more than 5 things, you are in danger of stifling the growth of your team.  

Of course, there are seasons when you may have to add something to your plate, such as the transition of a key staff member.  But sometimes seasons become just the way things are done, and reveal a leader who is too controlling, too untrusting, or is failing to develop people around you.  If you need help with this, check out this TOOL.

2. Confirm with your Board or supervisor that these are indeed the 5 things only you can do.  

3. Set a weekly time to ruthlessly review your calendar against the filter of these 5 things.  Are you spending 85% of your time on these five things?  If not, what do you need to adjust?

  • Is there a meeting you can opt out of, or be present for just the first half (answer is almost 100% yes).
  • Is there an activity you can delegate to a person, or create a system around?
  • Can you create a list of the three questions you always ask your direct report in a weekly meeting, and have them send those answers to you weekly as a report?
  • Can you refine the input you are being asked for?
  • Or, do you realize that one of your 5 priorities actually has no space in your schedule, and you need to create a beachhead on your calendar before someone else fills that up for you?

Hint:  What is the one thing connected to your 5 things that you have been procrastinating?  If you took 1 hour or one afternoon to knock that out, how would that change what the next few weeks looks like?

One objection I get to this is from leaders who feel they don’t have control over their schedule.  “You don't know how busy we are, how much my team needs me, how many meetings I have to be in each week, how many emails I have to answer.”

Whose fault is that?

What you tolerate you endorse.  

If you decide to start protecting your focus, it may be an uphill climb.  People may not like the “new you.”  But give it time and they will begin to see the impact on the organization and on their own development as you protect that focus.

Your team may want a reactive leader.  They NEED a proactive leader.  Don't give that away.

Thomas helps leaders navigate what’s next.  If he can serve you in this, reach out to him HERE

Photo by Alexandr Sadkov on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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