How to Avoid Failing Successfully
If busy equals success, you’ve arrived. But, the busier you are the easier it is to forget what matters.
Hectic leaders are distracted leaders.
Leaders without focus succeed at what doesn’t matter.
Busy leaders get results but ruin relationships, for example. Achieving results without building relationships is the formula for short-term success and long-term disaster.
A person without priorities follows urgencies. A person with priorities pursues significance.
A leader without priorities is a follower.
In order to matter you must stop doing things that don’t matter. But there’s much more.
Move beyond what you won’t do by establishing positive boundaries.
Dr. Henry Cloud, author of, “Boundaries for Leaders,” said, “Boundaries are made up of two essential things: what you create and what you allow.” Dr. Cloud explains that, among other things, boundaries enable focus.
Leaders without boundaries are leaders without focus.
Dr. Cloud explains that focus enables and enhances performances, both yours and theirs.
Enhance performance by clarifying focus.
Ask people in your organization, “What’s our focus?” How many answers will you get? It’s likely many have personal answers. That’s a hectic organization.
Dr. Cloud tells the story of a leader who has brief daily leadership huddles with his team to:
- Celebrate yesterday’s victories.
- Share helpful information. What new market information have you learned, for example?
- Identify a present challenge. How can we solve this challenge?
The successful leader Dr. Cloud describes creates focus every day.
How can leaders create boundaries that clarify focus?
Join me for one of two Live – Complimentary – Conference call with Dr. Henry Cloud, author of, “Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge.”
Wednesday, April 10
11:30 a.m. Eastern/8:30 a.m. Pacific
Thursday, April 11
1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific
PLEASE NOTE: The registration password is: LDRFRK
Maximum number of registrants per call: 1,000
WOW Dan, timing is everything, ain’t it?
As I work diligently on my inside job, time management…aka boundries is a topic my Director of Operations and I had a long talk about yesterday.
When you create a 400% increase in sales it isn’t as easy as one might think to adjust to keep the things that got you there in place.
Whoa Nellie, this bronco is bucking!
Hope I can get onto calls and will if I can. Guess I need to hear what he says more than I think if I can’t schedule them in!!!!!!!!!!!
This spiritual being having a human experience thingy is an inside job. As within, so without. If you find yourself without something, look IN!
Interesting that times of success create important opportunities for boundaries. We might have thought it was about downturns or problem solving.
For me it’s all about connecting my goodness with others goodness.
Pretty simple and creates explosive results.
37 sales 7 days A year ago before me 2 sales in the whole month. Just saying……
Dan, I think this really helps me understand why in good economic times, one sees a number of busy people being promoted to leadership positions. They get results and results count and everyone is so busy counting the results we forget things like boundaries and focus.
And then the good times pass and we’re faced with real challenges and suddenly we see we lack focus and boundaries. That’s where following something like Dr. Cloud’s daily clarification of what did we achieve yesterday, what new stuff have we learned and what do we want to achieve today can likely be helpful if you and the organization can stick to it.
Wish I could joing one of the calls, as I’m sure they would be highly educational, but my calendar says I have boundaries there and need to focus on other things at those times, so I guess I’ll have to buy the book! 🙂
Love your observation that busy leaders may do well in good times but during downturns real leaders emerge. Success is easier in good times. Our faults and missteps are overshadowed by results. When it goes dark…bright leaders shine.
What you allow – gee that’s a kicker.i know I get caught with that every day.It really takes significant discipline to ‘not allow’ and still keep everything in balance. Is it the small things or the big things we don’t allow which make the difference – or is it that they each hold the same weight.. ?
anyhow- my simply answer – consistency. whatever you do – do it day in day out.
I’m fascinated by Dr. Cloud’s approach to this topic. I limit myself to the more active approach when I think about boundaries. Perhaps the passive areas – things we allow – call for greater discipline in boundary creation.
Good topic, Dan. Focus is always a challenge for me, because I am interested in so much, and also enjoy helping others with their solutions. Especially true in the past, when sometimes I would venture down a road not ancillary to my goals, and it could have proved more effective staying my own course.
When I was young, a boss of mine compared frenetic, unfocused activity to a football game;
“You know, when you watch a team go down the field, you can see an awful lot of activity that ends up with no score. We need our activity to be effective activity, not just moving for the sake of moving.”
Stayed with me.
Love the huddle idea.“Let’s go around the table—what was done this week to move the ball forward on our top three priorities, and what is your top challenge to moving forward with greater success?”
I also recommend that leaders not waste an interaction. It’s productive, when appropriate to end with “What can I help you with? Are we on track to (priority 1) and (priority 2)?”
Signage around the department with priorities is helpful.
“Showing up” and walking the floor is an instant reminder of priority, and a call to the team to focus.
I was once asked at a high-level IT Leadership meeting,“What can we do to help our teams be more productive?” I flatly replied, “Show up.” and after a pause reminded them of the power of showing up as a leader, and interacting with their team on an unscheduled basis.
I’m with you. I’m excited about many things and find it hard to focus. I have LADD … Leader Attention Deficit Disorder! In addition, I don’t want to miss an opportunity.
I recently spoke with a leader who called the ability not to focus living in a house with all the windows and doors open. Vivid picture.
Thanks for the great suggestions… good stuff.
“A leader without priorities is a follower.”
Great line! Thanks!
I hadn’t thought of it till this morning….then it hit me. When I don’t prioritize someone else prioritizes for me. That makes me a follower not a leader.
BTW… all leaders should be followers too. But, not this way.
Peter Drucker said, “There is nothing as useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” It is often that I have to look at my schedule and determine what is necessary, and what needs to be changed. Busy, for me, is not necessarily productivity. Sometimes, it is just busy. There’s nothing more frustrating.
Why keep doing it? It doesn’t make sense…
There have been many busy days that ended with me wondering what I got done. Hmmmm … sounds like the tyranny of the urgent.
Hi Dan, thank you for another thought provoking entry. I really like the idea of a daily leadership ‘huddle’.
If they are short, perhaps even standing up, specific, and useful then they work. If they are just another meeting…forget it. 🙂
A prevailing theme amongst so many is wearing busyness like a badge of honor. As you point out, being busy is a detriment if you aren’t busy doing the right things. Great reminder!
Thank you Dave,
In some circles being busy equals being important. … Maybe we should shift that attitude… focused = important.
Boundaries are good but sometimes we mistake cockiness with boundaries. That way we even mistake a simple misunderstanding with lack of passion (vision). Not to mention cutting off important links and future business simply because we tend to be seeing anyone who doesn’t “fit in” into our own expectations as a waste of time – just to be proven wrong later on. So set boundaries but with caution!
Thanks again Dan for a super article!
So true. Arrogant boundaries could be laziness, for example.
One thing Dr. Cloud mentions in the book is leaders set boundaries around isolation. They open themselves to outside inputs.
Wow – this one hit home today. May actually finally get me to spend a few minutes prioritizing my day, instead of letting everyone else prioritize it for me.
I respect your candor … best wishes
Thanks for this post. Leaders are most effective when they create boundaries to lead within. They create a vision and focus for themselves and others around them.
Insightful as usual Dan. Now I’m looking at what I’m doing on a daily basis that might be considered hectic – even pointless. Thanks for post. 🙂
An eye-opening post! Clear focus on organizational goals with good clarity and commitment can bring planned results and keep the employees united as the winning team.
The successful leader always inspires the team to remain focused and work towards the set prioritized goals.
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