The Most Important Thing
Facebook contributors completed the sentence, “The most important thing leaders do is _______.” The first 10 responses were:
- Give feedback.
- Communicate vision.
- Enable others…
- Keep hope alive.
Read the entire list on Facebook.
I didn’t have an answer when I asked. Now I believe there is no single answer. The most important thing is situational.
The most important thing leaders do is
the most important thing.
Successful leaders do what’s important. Sometimes it’s listening. Other times, it’s giving feedback.
Clear the clutter. Find what’s important by stopping what’s not.
If you’re afraid to stop, postpone. Postponing insignificant activities is enough. If you’ve misjudged their importance, they’ll be back.
Delete items on your to-do list after carrying them forward a week. They seem important but they aren’t. If they were, you would have done them. Put them on a wish list.
What’s important now?
- Activities that produce results. Commit to action.
- Everything that feels urgent isn’t important. The next time someone approaches with panic in their eye, ask if it can wait until this afternoon. By the afternoon, see if it’s solved.
- Small wins. A small win in the hand is better than two big wins in the bush. Big wins emerge from a series of small wins.
Before starting something new, ask, “Is this important?” Keep asking as you go.
Don’t fret over finding the most important thing. Just do what’s important now.
Why are unimportant things getting done while important ones aren’t?
How do you determine what’s important?
Thank you for this. I often find it hard to describe to people what I do in my role as a leader of a non-profit charitable organization because it is so multi-dimensional and changes from day to day. But I often focus on the idea of having an “impact”, either on our interanal organization or on the community as a partner with other stakeholders.
Another great question to ask… Is this an impactful activity. .. I guess impactful isn’t a word…
Agree to you sir. The first point is sometime the most difficult one we often listen not to understand but to with that thought what we are going to reply………nice post thanks 🙂
Thank you supriya
I appreciate your point- big win is result of small wins. And that has lot of meaning and relevance. Successful people become successful with facing obstacle and overcoming them. Those fear to face obstacle may think for big wins but is difficult it they do not want to face the challenges. Among the list, I find two important things are missing- Connect and Understand. And these two words can differentiate in generation, philosophy and so many things. I believe everything starts with connect with ideology, thoughts, interest, heart etc. Without connecting it would be difficult to preach ideology. It will be preaching without practice.
Why unimportant things getting done and important ones are not is a great question. And how do you determine what is important is even greater. As you have mentioned is what is important is situational. It makes a lot of sense. Important in one situation might not be important in other situation. However, I also believe the more important issue to deal with the answer is – who are key players who influence and decide what is important or not. And I think this is a origin point that need lot of attention. Whether it is organizations, situation, enterprises or culture. Such players ideology deeply influence in making concept of importance. Therefore the most important thing is key people’s ideological belief.
Great seeing you again… you raise a powerful point..Who decides what’s important?
In a business, surprisingly, it’s the customer. Within and organization, perhaps those closest to the front-line know better than those distant and at the top. (Not always of course)
Thank you for consistently sharing your insights and questions. Best to you.
Good to read this first thing today to stay on objective: do activities that produce [desired] results. Just must know what those desired results are to commit to an action. Thank you!
Yes indeed… when in doubt, do something. Insight often comes on the way rather than sitting and waiting for lightening to strike.
“Small wins lead to big wins.” Love it! AND I needed to hear that today.
Here’s to your continued success!
Sorry about the Dea? I meant Dan. Duh.
I found your blog somewhere by browsing & will continue to read from time to time. Every day as a business owner is spent re-evaluating priorities. Systems are put in place for efficiency, but change is constant. It’s a routine of evaluate, plan, go, check results, & start again.
Today’s post is very good as I pause to decide what will not get my attention today. Though your blog was not on my list, it has been a good piece of this morning.
“Clear the clutter”. Something I DEFINITELY need to do. Another great post. 🙂
Another great piece and great list, Dan. Of course, you know my answer. The one word is CARE (ok, actually 4 words) Communicate, Appreciate, Respect, Encourage.
Continued success, my friend.
Reblogged this on THE tony d and commented:
Dan Rockwell asks the question: “The most important thing leaders do is _______.”
I think “listen” is good. But counselors sometimes just sit there and listen and do not reflect much in the way of actionable ideas. I think the manager needs to “listen to engage” and then “support to implement” if they are listening to ideas for change and improvement.
Bersin research shows that companies are spending billions on doing surveys (Listen) and that employee engagement has actually declined from 24% to 13% in the past two years (Mercer, 2012). So, listening to issues by itself is not really moving things much.
Experiential learning and reflection are two techniques to generate involvement and engagement which is also listening. But the key to this is having a strong and effective strategy to facilitate implementation and change, it seems.
With our Square Wheels tools, we can help a manager easily identify dozens of ideas for addressing the problem of un-engagement. With those ideas, though, that manager needs a good strategy for REMOVING those things blocking people — something we call Dis-Un-Engagement. You can google the word to come up with some articles and approaches.
We are also playing with the concept of:
Engagimentation, which is Engagement + Implementation.
This is a facilitated approach to generate involvement in the creation of ideas and the use of teamwork and peer support to install those ideas in a workable way.
Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car — so we must have some level of ownership to insure that people take care of their new baby. The middle 50% of most organizations is NOT engaged and involved but just working along unnoticed and un-engaged.
You can see some writings on this at http://performancemanagementcompanyblog.com/2012/11/26/engagamentation-engagement-plus-implementation/
Some of your posts really get me going, Dan. Keep up the good works.
Scott gets this week’s award for the most newly created words!
Struck a chord for me Scott, and of course I found a musical connection…YES sang, “I listen hard but could not see”. We spend millions listening but do not close the loop full and see/know, learn from what we hear…and then act accordingly. Measurement is not knowledge which definitely is not wisdom unless we do the added necessary work of connecting it all.
Had visceral reaction to your #2 around urgency Dan. I suppose its ‘how’ I interpreted your response–can it wait til the afternoon….as long as you incorporate the other elements before saying it…listen, understand connect. Perception is reality and if it ‘feels’ urgent to that person, then either it is (because you hired and trained them) or you have stumbled upon a great opportunity to provide some additional training. It could be that a series of flash fires de jour have caught up with this person and they need a brief assist in clearing some of the duff, or need some respite, a place to vent, or just a chance to breathe. Definitely would be a learning moment.
And with number one, wonder if activities that lead to results or action rather than produce result works as a reframe. Lots of activities in the preparation phase do not produce results but are there for contingency purposes. Brainstorming options may not yield immediate action but can avoid unnecessary action down the wrong rabbit hole.
Enjoyed the FB list, particularly, Theresa’s “enable others so well that they put themselves out of a job!” Would love to see that on some CEO job descriptions with metrics. 😉 One that I did not see was ‘leaders align’ or to be more figurative, ‘leaders weave’.
Inspiring stuff for a Friday, thanks all!
There will always be “millions” of things to do. Get used to it. A strong leader develops the skill of discerning among the “millions” the few objectives that meet 2 criteria:
1) What must be done, that;
2) Only I can do.
There are two categories of “what’s most important”. There are the ‘tactical’ things – the things we do to produce results and there are the “motivational” things – the things we do to care for those who are doing the tactical stuff. Both categories are situational and both impact one another. One key is to keep an eye on the Purpose of the organization…..the Missiion and the Vision and the Values …….always testing things against them and keeping an eye on the all important balance and interrelationship between them.
I didn’t participate in the FB “survey,” but had I done so, I would have written, “At least once daily, practice a conscious, deliberate review of inner life vis-a-vis outer one.”
This can happen early morning, before the day begins, and then a “taking stock” before sleep. The eye isn’t always on what when wrong. In the evening, especially, some attention is given to what went right.
Every external choice or action is though first.
So much stress in leaders and in other stakeholders comes from misalignment of beliefs with objectives; or objectives with values; or self-image with necessary choices; or heart with head; or individual heart with consensus desired direction. These are just a few examples of misalignment that comes from putting ones inner life on hold while we do “what’s important right now.”
We try to fix so much with reactive action. We demand action. Action, action, action. But misaligned action just makes things worse.
With surveyed figures for job dissatisfaction running (routinely) in the 80-90% of those surveyed range, it’s clear that just “bucking up” and/or acting without alignment is no longer a workable long-term or go-to strategy for engagement or leadership… was it ever?
It’s much more powerful to get aligned, than to fight on two fronts—inner and outer—throughout your workday.
“Checking in with you,” and when out of alignment, getting back in alignment quickly—this will help decide what is really important, so it in my opinion, this is most important—for a leader, or for anyone. 🙂
Of course, given some time with the best leaders, we often discover that they have such a practice; that their philosophy and what I call “inner life practice” supports the great leadership in their outer life.
Best to you,
I have to agree with the 1st on the list. “Listen” is by far the most important from my experience.
I good leader knows that he doesn’t have all the answers and looks to find the answers outside of themselves.
Terrific, terrific post. Thank you!