Are you as strategic as you could be?
Helping people get more of the results they want by being more strategic in every area of their lives, both personally and professionally, is an everyday occurrence for me. Being more strategic (or, in other words, thinking smarter) is a powerful concept. You can be more strategic about everything you do, and that often leads to incredible results. So over the last few years, white papers, books, recordings, and even courses have come from my shop about the simple concept of being strategic. For example, you can be strategic about who you hire, about how you look at financial numbers, about how you build a culture, and even about how you invest your time.
Let’s explore being strategic with your time now, since it can impact your results as much if not more than anything else. The single biggest idea people miss in being strategic about their time is saying “no” more effectively. In 2016 I authored a book called RESULTS Faster! and ended up devoting an entire chapter in that book to the concept of saying “no,” because that’s one of the most valuable concepts of top leaders. If you’re strategic about your time, you understand that saying “no” to some things is a must. And it doesn’t necessarily have to mean “totally no.” It can often mean you’re saying “no” to something someone is asking so you can say “yes” to and be more focused on your High Leverage Activities (HLAs). Handling “no” the wrong way can cause negative consequences, and yet handling “no” the right way can often lead to extraordinary results.
For example, if a friend calls and asks you to lunch and that’s not an HLA for you, then you might simply ask, “What’s up?” If the friend just wants to talk about your introducing him to a mutual acquaintance, you might suggest that instead of going to lunch to discuss it, you can just connect the two of them by email. You have strategically said “no” to the request (burning two hours for lunch), and yet you’ve said “yes” to what your friend really wanted, and it just took a few seconds to execute. Sometimes when people ask us to do something, we say “yes” without going deeper first; being strategic by thinking it through is a must. As a leader, we can’t say “yes” to everything, of course, nor should we say “no” too often. What we should do is be clear on what matters most, and then we can more easily decide our “yes’s” and “no’s.”
Let’s apply that truth for a minute. Strategic clarity about roles and responsibilities is important, of course. Do you agree? Rather than relying heavily on job descriptions as we’ve done in the past, what might be more strategic or important today is sharing with your people where you want them to invest their time. I believe your team members can be more productive and can focus more effectively by having clarity of what their five or seven High Leverage Activities are, versus just having a description of their role.
A super-effective tool we introduced in the RESULTS Faster! book is what we call an Accelerator Matrix, which helps people focus more on their HLAs. Study the template below for a minute or so.
Basically, you list out in the first column five to seven of the most important activities (HLAs) someone should be doing in any given week, whether they’re an executive, an executive assistant, or a mid-level manager (and it even works for the field). In the middle column, list the actions they could take to accelerate each HLA. For example, if one of your own HLAs is nourishing your team, one of the actions in that middle column might be to hold inspiring staff meetings. Another HLA may be to monitor three or four critical success factors that matter the most, and an action for that HLA may be to ensure reports are coming to you in a way you can understand them. Then in the last column list any roadblocks that could keep you from taking those actions. A roadblock for nourishing your team may be your busy schedule that keeps you from taking the time to invest in your people; to bust that roadblock, you need to calendar time with those people.
When you become more strategic about everything you do, including your time, you’re on the road to better and faster results.
Very Important Points:
- Be more strategic about everything you do, and that often leads to incredible results.
- Be strategic about your time.
- Be really clear on your High Leverage Activities and invest more time in these areas.
- Be clear on your Low Leverage Activities and do less of them.
- Make sure you discover roadblocks that are causing you to not focus on your High Leverage Activities, and bust through those roadblocks.
Tony Jeary—The RESULTS Guy™—is a prolific author and a strategist. His organization, TJI, facilitates powerful meetings, keynote events and coaches high performers to accelerate their results.