We recently wrote about the importance of consistent coaching, training, and repetition for leadership development and training. In fact, consistency and repetition is critical for almost anything we wish to learn or improve upon — from leadership skills to baking fresh pastries. But time is always a challenge. How do you find the time for consistent leadership development and training?
In the long-run, one session, a single workshop, or a long weekend will not help anyone become a strong leader. That’s because we — literally — forget what we’ve learned. Only consistent repetition with help us overcome the “forgetting curve.”
That places us between Scylla and Charybdis. We need time to develop our leaders, but we never have enough time to go around — do we short change our leadership training efforts, or do we put off other important work?
An Alternative Way of Viewing Work Priorities: The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix is a 2×2 grid used by General Dwight Eisenhower during World War II to help him assess the importance of a task to the overall success of a mission and the urgency with which that task needed to be completed. It was further popularized by Stephen Covey in his work.
Here’s how it works:
Items that are URGENT and IMPORTANT. Things such as unexpected events, crisis, emergencies, and pop-up projects with eleventh hour deadlines go here. The key to dealing with items in this quadrant is responsive, efficient execution and delegation wherever possible.
Items that are NOT URGENT and IMPORTANT. Big picture goals, strategic thinking, new initiatives, and work on emerging opportunities falls into this quadrant. These goals, projects, and activities are the things that truly make a long-term difference to an organization. However, because they are not necessarily urgent, work on them often is postponed.
Items that are URGENT and UNIMPORTANT. We often spend time on many items that may be urgent but really are not very important. These range from replying to all your emails to attending a meeting simply because you were invited. The key for things in this quadrant is to eliminate as many as possible and delegate as much as you can. The goal is to minimize your time in this quadrant.
Items that are NOT URGENT and UNIMPORTANT. These tasks really shouldn’t exist! They tend to be mindless little distractions and make-work. Sometimes mindlessly completing an obscure quarterly report, watching a funny YouTube video, or cleaning up whatever is in the lower left drawer of your credenza your is a good stress reliever. Mostly though, they are time-wasters.
Focus on NOT URGENT and IMPORTANT
The crux of the issue for leadership development is that it is vitally important to the long-term success and mission of your organization… But there is really no specific urgency in getting the work done. There are no hard deadlines — unlike much of the other work we do. We tend to put it off, or get it done quickly, just to check off the box.
The Eisenhower Matrix forces us to think about whether we are working on the right things. The NOT URGENT but IMPORTANT category is the most important quadrant of time management for a leader. This is where leadership training goes. Are you working on the right things?
While there are other helpful tactics to help you set priorities getting your NOT URGENT but IMPORTANT projects in order is the most critical thing you can do. How? Clean up your other quadrants. What can you eliminate, say no to, or delegate? Then identify and commit to blocking out significant chunks of time on NOT URGENT but IMPORTANT work. Schedule time now and in the months ahead — get it in your calendar.
It takes dedication, discipline, and focus. But you will gain time and begin making progress on things that are truly important for you and your organization, including a consistent approach to leadership development.
Arden Can Help with Leadership Development and Training
To learn more about Leadership Development and Training, managing your time strategically, and strengthening leadership skills in your organization, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.