As I wrote this title, I wondered, “Is this true? Is there really a single “key” to greater impact? Should I choose different language?” Here’s what I know: I’ve been looking for ways to better steward my leadership for almost four decades. Some days I feel I get it right, other times I feel I’ve failed miserably. Through it all, this one idea surfaces again and again.
Before I share my perspective on “the key,” I challenge you to think about the value of greater impact in the areas in which you lead. What would happen if you had more influence and greater impact at home, or school, on your team, or at the office? What goals could you accomplish? What mountains could you climb? What dragons could you slay?
The key to greater impact lies in how we use our time. Yes, I know, this is not very sexy and perhaps not even believable at face value. You may be asking: where’s the insight in that statement? None of this makes it less true.
How we invest our time has many implications…
- Signals our priorities
- Lends our support
- Closes gaps
- Infuses energy
- Fosters growth in others
- Models desired behaviors
For the reasons above and more, how we invest our time ultimately determines our level of effectiveness and impact.
How are you doing on this issue? Here are a few questions to help you evaluate the use of your time…
Does your calendar reflect your stated priorities? Certainly, it reflects your real priorities. However, a gap between the two erodes your moral authority to lead. Regardless of how well we do what we do, we get no credit for doing the wrong things well.
Are you investing your time with the right people? If we are not careful, we can drift, or be pulled, to spend time with the wrong people. Who are your future leaders? How much of your time do they get verses your problem people? Who can help you carry the load?
How much time do you invest on self-leadership? Many leaders, myself included, can falsely assume our role is to serve at our own expense. This strategy is shortsighted. We must put on our own oxygen mask first if we hope to serve over the long haul. This includes rest, recreation, personal growth and more. What we do in private has a huge impact on our public effectiveness.
How much time do you devote to the future? Many leaders are ineffective because they have succumbed to the management of today rather than the creation of tomorrow. The future demands time on your calendar. Don’t let today push out tomorrow. If you do, you’ve given away more than your time – you’ve given away your leadership.
Does your use of time increase others’ confidence in you as a leader? Do you use your time like a leader should? Are you seen mostly in reactionary mode or proactive role? Are you purposeful? Are you strategic with your time? Do people associate your decisions regarding your time with what a leader should do?
Are you investing your time on your biggest problems? One of my favorite moments in any consulting engagement involves two questions: 1) What is your biggest problem? 2) How much time did you invest on that issue last week? Leaders invest their time strategically.
A leader’s time is his or her greatest asset. Only when we steward it well, can we reach our full potential.[GLS_Shield]
Idea for Action: Keep a time log for two weeks, in 15-minute increments, and see what you can learn.