3 Areas Where Leaders Must Be Extra Deliberate With Their Time

It’s been said that nothing worthwhile is ever accomplished overnight.  Virtually everything of real meaning or matter not only requires effort and commitment, but an investment of time.  In particular, it’s really the small investments of time over a longer period of time that add up to something significant.

This is where the conversation started this past weekend.  And then, the heavyweight left hook came flying at me!

If those assumptions are true, then in what areas of your life (personally) is it most difficult to make up for lost time?  Where is it almost impossible to put a rally hat on and expect that a late, 4th quarter comeback or a 48-hour marathon is possible?

This discussion was part of a topic series called “Ask It”, written and delivered by Andy Stanley, Pastor of NorthPoint Church in Georgia.  This particular installment, entitled, Time Over Time, explores the idea that “small deposits of time over time” impact our progress in life areas that matter most (ie: our health, relationships, etc).  And, where we fail to make those precious investments of time, it’s not only next to impossible to ‘catch-up’, but we subject ourselves to less than desirable consequences.

Over a long flight this week, not only did the challenge weigh on my mind personally, but I began to consider how this phenomenon plays out in organizations and with leaders.  In what areas of organizational life is it most difficult to make up for lost time?  Asked differently, what areas of the business need steady, incremental investments of time over time in order to make a positive difference?

There are three big areas where leaders must be deliberate in investing small amounts of time over time or they put their organization in a vulnerable and risky position.

I wouldn’t be surprised if more than half of all organizations aren’t lagging behind in at least one of these areas.  In today’s fast-paced marketplace, it’s far too easy to let short-term pressures rule the day. Before you know it, you look up and wonder where the weeks and months have gone. Worst yet, one glance at your calendar days can leave you shaking your head about where you’ve spent your time.

Leadership Development  [Building Individuals]

The mission of all great leadership is to create more leaders.  Period.  As a leader you are called to develop and grow people, at whatever cost – even if it’s time.  The biggest investment you can make for your organization are the small increments of time, new experiences and opportunities you allocate for the next level leaders.  When it comes to developing next level leaders, most organizations wait way too long, and are inevitably caught scurrying to replace lost talent to avoid a drop in performance.

There’s four keys to staying on track in this area:

  1. A thorough knowledge of who the emerging or next level leaders are across the organization through periodic talent reviews.
  2. Accountability to each leader to own the development plan for those next level leader(s).
  3. Next level leaders engaged in development activity and assignments on a weekly basis.
  4. A ‘gaps’ meeting to identify progress with leadership development activity.

Team-Building  [Building Teams]

Building a team is far from being the classic ‘all-nighter’ project, right?  Turning a ‘department’ into a team will require a steady investment of time together – quite possibly months and years. This has become a much more difficult feat in today’s more mobile, virtually connected world where individuals are spread throughout the globe.  Building a great business team is so much more than getting the right talent in the right roles.

A solid team can hold each other accountable, be vulnerable with each other, are cohesive and collaborative across function, and exhibit a balanced make-up in style, approach and personality.

There’s four keys to staying on track in this area:

  1. Top leaders are tuned into all of the team performance and engagement across the organization.
  2. Accountability to each leader to own his or her own team development plan.
  3. Team development activity occurs on a weekly basis at a minimum, with additional development activity and assignments quarterly.
  4. A ‘gaps’ meeting to identify progress with team development activity.

Coaching, Training and Development  [Building The Organization]

According to a 2014 Forbes article, entitled, Spending on Corporate Training Soars: Employee Capabilities Now A Priority, identifies that “70% of organizations cite “capability gaps” as one of their top five challenges, but many companies also tell us that it takes 3-5 years to take a seasoned professional and make them fully productive.”  If you’re not investing in repetitive training and development initiatives for your entire staff, top to bottom, you’re putting your business in a vulnerable position.

There’s four keys to staying on track in this area:

  1. There’s a comprehensive coaching system in place throughout the organization where coaching (linked to strategy) for each person occurs in some form on a weekly basis.
  2. The coaching system is such that we can quickly identify capability and performance ‘gaps’ that can be addressed with training.
  3. Regular ‘gaps’ meeting to develop the learning and development plans.
  4. Training initiatives are steady, consistent and regular, as opposed to one-time events.

In Closing

Did you catch the word ‘weekly’ disguised in italics?  Leadership, team and individual development should be happening on a weekly basis.

So, I’m curious.  What does this look like for you and your organization?

Have I missed any areas that leaders need to have on their watch-list when it comes to making sure they are making small investments of time over time?

Could you choose one area where you need to be more deliberate to invest small amounts of time over time?

Be careful – these are the areas where consequences of not spending the time are not only crippling to organizations, but can sneak up on you very quickly.

When you least expect it.

 

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