As an executive leadership coach who's walked the corridors of corporate leadership, I've witnessed the increasing demands placed on today's leaders and the increased importance of prioritization in leadership. The relentless pursuit of results, the pressure to meet higher expectations, and the evolving dynamics of the modern workforce present challenges that demand a fresh perspective. It’s time to consider a seemingly paradoxical concept—finding ways to "care less"—and how it can unlock a leader's capacity to care more about what truly matters.

The Landscape of Modern Leadership

In a world where job satisfaction is declining, and the workforce is grappling with the stresses of returning to the office or navigating hybrid work, leaders find themselves at a crossroads. Despite efforts to provide flexibility, support, and even salary increases, discontent persists. The distance between leaders and their teams has eroded trust, giving rise to misunderstandings and conflict. The remedy, however, lies not in doing more but in doing things differently.

The Irony of "Caring Less"

As an intentional leadership coach, I often ask my clients a seemingly ironic question: "How can you care less?" It's not a call to apathy, but rather a challenge to shed unnecessary burdens. Leaders must learn to care less about the distracting noise around them - the non-essential matters that hinder their ability to lead with intention. This shift is crucial because caring less about the trivial allows leaders to invest more in what truly matters - leading, engaging and supporting their teams to be their best. 

Prioritization in Leadership & Identifying Less Important Matters

To embark on this journey of caring less, leaders need practical strategies to identify what is less important. Here are 3 ways to navigate this process:

  1. Prioritize Impact: Evaluate tasks and responsibilities based on their potential impact. What actions contribute significantly to team engagement, productivity, and overall success? By prioritizing tasks with a direct impact, leaders can allocate their time and energy where it matters most.
  2. Align with Core Values: Leaders should reassess their activities in light of their organization's core values. Are the tasks aligning with the company's mission and values? If not, there may be distractions that hinder authentic leadership. By aligning actions with core values, leaders can streamline their focus and contribute to a more purpose-driven workplace.
  3. Delegate Wisely: Effective leaders recognize the power of delegation. Identify tasks that can be delegated to capable team members, freeing up time for leaders to concentrate on strategic, high-impact initiatives. Delegating empowers team members, fosters collaboration, and ensures that leaders direct their energy where it matters most.

Embrace a New Era of Leadership

In a time where intentional, heart-led leadership is needed more than ever, the challenge lies in bridging the gap between the desire to lead effectively and the daily grind of overwhelming responsibilities. It's time for companies and decision-makers to invest in developing their leaders, providing them with the skills and support needed to navigate the complexities of today's business landscape.

“Caring less” is not about neglecting responsibilities; prioritization in leadership is a strategic decision to shed the unnecessary and focus on what truly matters. By embracing this shift in perspective, leaders can navigate workplace challenges with resilience, authenticity, and a commitment to making a meaningful impact.

If your leaders are grappling with prioritization of what matters most, it may be time to support them in developing modern leadership approaches critical to sustained success into the future. Let's connect

One of the biggest challenges facing leaders today is meeting fatigue and the epidemic of unproductive meetings. When you ask any leader about their calendar these days, the response is often, "My calendar is unmanageable." It's not just back-to-back meetings, but sometimes two or even three meetings happening at a time.

Some leaders find themselves juggling multiple screens and logins, taking multitasking to the next level, but is it really?

In my own corporate experience, I spent hours upon hours in meetings, but I had an executive assistant who could help protect some small slivers of time each week on my calendar. 

Navigating the Meeting Maze

With the ever-increasing speed of change and the rising expectations for urgency, how can leaders be at their best? They plow through the day, switching contexts like crazy, leaving little room for actual work…or leadership!

As companies require their leaders to bring new thinking to the table, keep up with emerging trends and technologies that significantly impact strategy, and lead differently to meet the new expectations of a post-COVID workforce, leaders struggle to find a moment for a bathroom break or lunch.

Of course, we all have the opportunity to hold ourselves more accountable for our own time, our most precious resource. I've recommended and walked leaders through tools like the Eisenhower matrix, "start/stop/continue", and time tracking. These excellent approaches enhance focus, prioritize tasks, and manage time better. However, we've reached a point where companies need to more actively support their leaders in these efforts and in breaking the meeting culture.

We can delve into what's holding us back from setting boundaries or saying no. Still, it's less effective if leaders aren't provided with encouragement or examples of how to do this.

I've spent the last three weeks with three different clients in three states, discussing various leadership topics. The common theme that emerged across all these leaders' experiences and occupied the minds of everyone I spoke to was TIME — specifically, finding time on their calendars to do more: more of what's expected, more of what their teams need, and more of what makes them feel fulfilled and alive.

Leading with Intention in a Time-Starved World

How can I find time in my day to lead ...and lead like I really want to? The desire to lead with intention is there, but stepping off the hamster wheel and making that desire a reality is incredibly challenging.

Shopify recently confronted this problem head-on by installing a calendar app to track the number of hours spent in meetings and their associated costs. By simply being aware of this data, they are on track to save $322,000 in meeting time costs in the first year alone.

During a discussion and facilitated brainstorming session about strategic priorities this week, one of my clients decided to focus on meeting and email overload as a strategy in itself! 

Sometimes, awareness is all that's needed to drive change. Leaders are crying out for help as they feel conflicted, unprepared, and unsupported in giving their best in today's workplace. If we ask leaders to lead differently in this ever-changing world, organizations need to do something different to support them and their teams in this endeavor. 

Support them in pushing back, support them in changing the trajectory of where we're headed, and support them in prioritizing the true value they bring to the table.

Practical Steps to Combat Meeting Overload

Here are four actions to consider in the fight against meeting fatigue at your organization:

  1. Survey your organization to gather facts: Conduct a comprehensive survey across your organization to quantify the extent of meeting overload. Ask employees how many meetings they attend regularly and how valuable they perceive them to be. Gather insights into common pain points and frustrations related to meetings.
  2. Implement technology to track meeting time and costs: Leverage technology solutions similar to Shopify's approach to track the amount of time employees spend in meetings and calculate associated costs. This data will provide valuable insights into the financial impact of meetings and highlight areas for potential optimization.
  3. Establish meeting-free zones in your calendar: Encourage leaders to designate specific time blocks in their calendars where no meetings are allowed. These meeting-free zones provide leaders with uninterrupted periods to focus on critical tasks, engage in strategic thinking, and prioritize their most important work. This practice helps prevent burnout and fosters productivity.
  4. Implement Meeting Purpose and Agenda Guidelines: Encourage the adoption of clear meeting purpose and agenda guidelines within your organization. Require meeting organizers to define a clear purpose for each meeting and share a well-structured agenda in advance. This ensures that meetings stay on track, focused, and result-oriented, reducing unnecessary meetings and time wastage.

What other ideas do you have to help leaders dig out of the meeting culture of today?

If you are ready to navigate these challenges and invest in your leaders, let’s connect.

Leadership Prioritization to Achieve More

“I would like to be less productive”, said no one ever!  Often, my coaching clients are faced with overwhelming demands to increase the speed of decision making & delivery and caught up in that always-on / always-connected feeling – trying to keep pace by doing more, multi-tasking, context switching.  While not intended, this approach can actually cause them to be less productive in the end.

It is so important to be present and mindful about what we are adding to our plate – prioritization is critical to helping us stay focused on high-value activities (the critical few things!) that drive successful outcomes.

Even more than that, a prioritization mindset is what will help us achieve our personal and professional best!  When adopted, a prioritization mindset will create the space and energy to focus on the things that really matter.

Adopt the Prioritization Mindset

So what can you do to adopt a prioritization mindset and how do you know when you get there?

Set Boundaries:

As a leader, you hold true to the vision for the organization, you set the agenda and you make the rules. You establish boundaries and hold your team accountable to certain standards of performance.  But are you giving yourself permission to set boundaries that protect your own happiness at work?

Boundaries set the tone for the emotional climate of the organization and reflect the behaviors you will allow and the culture you desire.  When you set boundaries, you are making space for your personal goals and your best work as your best self.

“No” as a Full Sentence:

If saying no is difficult for you, you may be drowning in a sea of Yes’s. Your to-do list is long and filled with tasks that weren’t originally on your radar and aren’t in support of the goals you set for yourself.

Know what matters to YOU – ask yourself these questions…  does this request align to strategy or delight a customer?  Does it play to my strengths, develop a blind spot, provides an opportunity?

When you say No, you are saying Yes to those things that excite you, advance your development, move you toward your goal.

Embrace Simplicity:

It is easier to develop a complex solution than a simple one. Simplicity is hard but when it comes into focus, it creates abundance – in energy, time, meaningful work, health. It enables you to move away from complex, chaotic choices and begin thinking about your work and life in a different way.

Be intentional in looking for the simple solution, start planning ahead, stop watching so much tv, spend less time on social media.  When you embrace simplicity, you embrace possibilities and become even more focused, confident, and committed to your direction in your career and your life.

Commit to Self-care:

When you feel depleted, you have nothing to give. It is easy to fill your time with the needs and priorities of others and activities you “should” do. Often personal priorities, self-care, “you time”, falls to the bottom of the list.  If you are kind to yourself and consider your own needs, you will be able to show up fully for those around you.

When you commit to self-care, you are able to engage and contribute graciously so everyone benefits.

Prioritization Mindset Reduces Stress

If you are stressed out, overwhelmed, or overcommitted, try some of these strategies.  Developing and sustaining a prioritization mindset is one of the best ways to achieve more.  More time and more energy to focus on activities that will help you reach your goals and achieve your personal and professional best.

Consider a professional business coach to help you narrow your focus, energy, resource so you can dedicate more of yourself to the few things that are going to make the biggest difference in your life!

Tricia Manning © 2024 All Rights Reserved.
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