Are You Working on the Right Things?

Rebeka is an intelligent, hard worker, who gets along well with her colleagues. She’s one of those people who adroitly handles whatever it is that needs to get done.

Recently, an opportunity for a promotion to a leadership position presented itself and Rebeka was convinced she was ready. Not only did she possess a strong track record of productivity, she also loved working at the company and understood its services and markets inside and out.

What Rebeka didn’t know at the time was that her hard work and productivity were not focused enough on projects and programs truly important to the long-term success of her company. Even her leadership team couldn’t clearly articulate the shortcoming. When another person at the company was selected for the position, Rebeka was vaguely told that the other person “was a better strategic fit for the position.”

“What does that mean?” thought Rebeka. Determined to not be passed over again the next time an opportunity came along, she decided to work with an executive coach to critically assess her strengths and weaknesses, and to help her adapt, change, and adopt whatever new behaviors were required to become an exceptional leader.

Executive coaches push high potential employees to grow professionally and personally, break down the barriers of their corporate comfort zones, and develop the skills required to take them to the next level of leadership. Executive coaches provide awareness, accountability, and direction to help people hone their skills and realize their full potential.

One set of behaviors the executive coach identified (and later became a priority for change) helped Rebeka recognize that, while she was an incredibly knowledgable, hard-working, and productive employee, she was not working enough on the “big things” — forward-thinking projects and initiatives that could have a significant impact on the future of the company and her career.

With her coach’s help, Rebeka has started to manage her work based on Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix. As simple as it is brilliant, the 2×2 matrix looks at the interplay of urgency and importance, and provided Rebeka with a framework to organize and strategically make the best use of her time and energy. She analyzed all of her work, including new opportunities she wanted to pursue, and arranged it into the four categories of the matrix. For more about work habits, read Arden Coaching’s article “Are Your Work Habits Helping or Hurting You??

urgent and not urgentRebeka identified projects, initiatives, and innovation efforts important to the company, but not immediately urgent. NOT URGENT and IMPORTANT typically includes work that involves big picture goals, strategic thinking, and emerging opportunities. The work is vital, but typically not framed as an emergency situation or work that needs to be accomplished in a short timeframe.

However, this is the most important quadrant of time management for every leader — this quadrant is where the magic happens! Rebeka committed to investing significant time on not-urgent and important work.

With the help of her coach, Rebeka has come to understand that because the work is not urgent accomplishing the work requires dedication, discipline, and focus. Armed with new insights and tools, she has enthusiastically begun her new journey: working on the “right things.” The next time opportunity knocks, Rebeka will be ready.

To learn more about executive coaching, leadership, and working on the right things contact us at [email protected] or 646.844.2233.