RSS How to Lead Effectively When Everything is a Priority

If you’re like me, there often isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done. This is especially true when you add in the things that you want, but do not necessarily need to accomplish. While I have taken a few Time Management courses in the past, I don’t pretend to be an expert on the matter -- just ask my family. I can, however, offer some insights that have helped me to remain calm during the most hectic of times.

I think one of the most important characteristics of any leader is their ability to balance their responsibilities and display a calm demeanor. If there is one thing that leaders can’t afford to do it is to allow their emotions to get the better of them. I see this happen most often when leaders have competing priorities or when results fail to meet expectations. While this is inevitable from time to time, what can you do to remain calm and focused?

The good, old “to-do” list:
One of the most important things I do each day is to evaluate what I need to accomplish -- or, at least begin -- in order to meet all required deadlines. A common practice is to create a “to-do” list before I leave work each night, so as to maintain focus when I arrive to work the following morning. My “to-do” list not only includes projects and reports, but also the names of various individuals I need to contact. This practice of prioritizing the important people I want to talk to each day is very beneficial. Believe it or not, these interactions are often the best gauge for whether my day was “productive.”  They can lead to improved efficiencies or increased opportunity -- both important to the bottom-line.

Accountability:
Another way that I find calm during a work “storm” is to take a moment to reflect upon the various priorities – or, obligations -- I am carrying at the moment. I can’t tell you how many times I discovered that many of them were actually someone else’s burden. It is often unproductive and debilitating to mentally carry the projects that your teammates have been tasked to complete. If you are in a position of leadership, the best thing that you can do is to help your team members take responsibility for their own work, while still assisting them with your guidance and leadership.

Reflection:
My last piece of advice to help you prioritize your time is to take a moment and reflect upon the successes of your organization. All too often we get caught up in the work that still needs doing or the goals that have yet to be achieved, and we forget to enjoy the incremental successes that have been made along the way. The fastest way to overcome the stresses of the day is periodically remind yourself of how far you have come in our professional or personal journey.

To me, leaders don’t get measured by how many items get checked off their “to-do” lists or by the heights to which they are able to take their organizations. I believe their legacy is built upon the organizational culture they create and the ability to help team members fulfill their potential. Where do these show up on a “to-do” list?

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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