What are your priorities? – Part 2

What are your priorities? – Part 2

As mentioned in last month’s column, leaders never advance to the point where they no longer need to prioritize, yet not every leader practices the discipline of prioritization.  That being the case, this month I want to follow-up by discussing how to prioritize.  However, I want to share with you a strange and humorous thing has happened as a result of a situation I shared in last month’s column. The situation I shared was:

I frequently see an organization executive at conferences where my company exhibits. In order to keep the identity of this executive anonymous, I am going to refer to the executive as Mr. Smith.  Nearly every conference I attend Mr. Smith approaches me and tells me he would like for my company to perform for his organization one of the services we provide. I respond, “Okay, how do we make that happen?” 

Mr. Smith always responds, “Call me next week.”

The following week, I call Mr. Smith and leave a voice message because he is so busy doing whatever it is he does. After a few days, I call again and leave another message saying that I am trying to get back with him in response to his request.  After a couple of weeks, I send an email saying that I have tried to call and have left messages and  since he is so busy, why didn’t he call me when he has time to talk or send me an email telling me when it would be convenient to  meet.  I may or not hear from him, but the project with which he is asking us to help never gets scheduled. 

Later in the year at another conference at which my company exhibits we have a replay of the request for our services –  me asking him how we make that happen, him responding “call me next week,” me leaving him voice messages and sending an email.

This has happened approximately 3 times per year for approximately two and one half years. 

Many times he apologizes for not following through on his request and says, “I’m just so busy.”

I understand being busy. All of us are busy.  However, we manage to do the things that we really want to do. 

Mr. Smith manages to attend at least three or four conferences per year, yet cannot find the time to do something he says he needs for his organization.  What he says he wants done does not get done because it is not a priority for him.   

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What are your priorities?

What are your priorities?

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell wrote:

“Leaders never advance to a point where they no longer need to prioritize.  It is something that good leaders keep doing, whether they’re leading a billion-dollar corporation, running a small business, pastoring a church, coaching a team, or leading a small group. I think good leaders intuitively know that to be true. However, not every leader practices the discipline of prioritizing.  Why?  I believe there are a few reasons.

First, when we are busy, we usually believe that we are achieving. But busyness does not equal productivity.  Activity is not necessarily accomplishment. Second, prioritizing requires leaders to continually think ahead, to know what’s important, to know what’s next, to see how everything relates to the overall vision.  That’s hard work.  Third, prioritizing causes us to do things that are at the least uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful.” 

Other philosophers and writers have also stressed the importance of establishing priorities. In his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey devotes an entire chapter to “Put First Things First” and stresses “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” 

The poet, novelist, playwright, diplomat, and civil servant Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, “Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things that matter least,”

I am a firm believer that we accomplish what we prioritize and each of us needs to look at what we do and evaluate whether we are doing what we should be doing. 

Frequently, people say to me, “I don’t know how you have the time to do everything you do?” Now, think about this.  We all have the same amount of time.  Why is it that some people get so much more done than others? It is because the ones who get the most done “put first things first” and do not let other activities take precedent over what needs to be done. They have firmly established their priorities.

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Never Ask a Question to Which You Don’t Know the Answer

Leadership Coaching with Mel Brown

First of all, I want to say, “thanks to all the people who were kind enough to write and tell me how much you appreciated last month’s column. Your taking the time to write to let me  know  you  found  the column helpful  is deeply appreciated.  As my grandfather used to say, “Your kindness warmed the cockles of my heart.”

Some of those who wrote asked if I would expound on some of the concepts I presented.  I appreciate the request.  That makes it much easier for me to come up with ideas for this column.

Never Ask a Question to Which You Don’t Know the Answer!

In last month’s column, I illustrated this principle by saying that when I had an item that needed to go on  the agenda  for the meeting of the  Juvenile Board or Commissioners Court, I visited with each member to learn if they were supportive of what I was proposing.  If I discovered a majority of them were opposed to what I was proposing, I pulled the item from the agenda, visited with those who were opposed, found out what their objections were and spent time overcoming them.  I only put it back on the agenda when I had enough votes for the item to be approved.

As one reader pointed out, frequently matters come up that require the item be placed on the agenda of the next meeting and there is not enough time to do the things I suggested.  That reader is absolutely correct.  In that case, this principle would not be applicable. However, most items are not emergency items.

Another reader suggested I provide examples of how this principle works.  Suppose I had an idea for a new program or wanted to suggest a new way of doing something that would require approval from the board.  In a casual conversation with each member of the board, I would bring up the idea.  If I got a negative response from some of the members, I would ask them to explain why they felt the way they did.  Once I knew what their objections were, I could then work on how to overcome their objections or amend the idea to make it more acceptable to them.  [READ FULL POST]

Helpful Hints for Executives

Leadership Coaching with Mel Brown

Once again I find myself experiencing the malady which every writer periodically experiences – the malady of “writer’s block.”   Since my creative juices were drained and nothing was flowing from my brain to the keyboard of my computer, I decided to peruse through some past issues of The MBA Dispatch to see whether reading some of my previous columns stirred up new ideas. 

Sure enough it did stir up one good idea.  I decided to update and rerun some columns from a number of years ago.  An earlier version of this column appeared in the March 2013 issue of The MBA Dispatch.

Helpful Hints for Executives

Recently during a conversation with the Director of a Community Supervision and Corrections Department, she reminded me of some “helpful hints” that I had given her shortly after she was appointed as Director and said that they had proven very valuable to her. 

 It occurred to me that “helpful hints for executives” might be a good topic for this column.  Many of these hints were passed on to me by people I considered mentors, by other probation directors or by other friends or are ideas I discovered while exploring the role of a leader. 

Regardless of their source, they proved invaluable to me and I thought they would be worthy of consideration by readers of this column.  Here they are for whatever they are worth. Read full article