When faced with the decision of giving your attention to something urgent or something important, which are you likely going to choose?
Typically, urgent trumps important.
Chris McChesney calls the day-to-day priorities of your job the “whirlwind”. These activities often feel urgent on any given day because they must be done for the business to function. Competing against the urgent, whirlwind priorities are goals. Goals are new activities that are important to the overall success of the business. The problem that leaders have with executing their goals is that typically, urgent trumps important. Thus, your day is consumed with the whirlwind, not leaving any time to work on your goals.
Knowing that urgent priorities will always be in the way, what can we do to actively accomplish and execute our goals?
- Focus on ONE wildly important goal at a time.
- Determine the fewest number of tactics necessary to achieve that goal.
Remember, as Chris pointed out, execution’s best friends are simplicity and transparency. By focusing on and digging deep into a single goal, you’ll be better setting yourself up for success. Even though we want to execute all our great ideas, saying no to good ideas doesn’t kill innovation. It is not realistic or efficient to load up your to-do list with all your great ideas; the innovation will never see the light of day.
Of course, you won’t be executing your wildly important goal alone. It requires a team. But, as a leader, how can you engage your team to ensure execution? The key is making people feel like they’re winning a high-stakes game. If your employees feel that the job they have matters, that they are recognized by their leader (you!) and that they can measure their success, they will instantly be more engaged in the work they are doing.
After setting your wildly important goal, work with your team to create a list of tactics that support the goal. Then, track the data behind each tactic and create a visual representation for the whole company to see. This will set you on the path to command the whirlwind.
For more information on Chris McChesney and the 4 Disciplines of Execution, click here.