It is easy to be seduced into thinking that everything is high-priority and must have your attention now. But game-changing leaders have a laser-like focus on the number one thing that is going to make the biggest difference to achieving their objectives. Ken knew that if he did not turn around the relationship with his key business unit clients, he would be shown the door and his IT Department would quite possibly be outsourced. He set himself a three-month target to understand his clients’ strategic objectives and to translate that into an agreed set of priorities for IT projects. He was tired of his team being the meat in the sandwich of competing corporate priorities.
Ken dedicated himself to a listening phase to better understand each of his stakeholders’ strategic objectives and the leadership challenges they faced. They appreciated his investment of time; it was a refreshing contrast to the adversarial relationship that had developed between them. Once Ken understood what his clients were on the hook to deliver, he was able to work with them to prioritise a realistic work program. He kept things on track with a dashboard he created which provided clarity and visibility of progress with delivery of projects for his clients.
The process soon demonstrated that they had been deluding themselves that any meaningful results would come from the previous chaotic arrangment. It also meant that his team now had clarity and could focus on delivery of the strategic priorities. They now have the runs on the board and his clients regard him as a trusted advisor.
It was a wakeup call for Ken; he had been spreading himself too thin in the belief that it was possible to do everything. He knew that his performance would be substantially assessed by his client satisfaction rating. Turning it around was his biggest leadership challenge. That meant that he needed to say no to many other requests. Greg McKeown in his book, Essentialism, suggests that, “Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important. But an Essentialist has learned to tell the difference between what is truly important and everything else.”
What is your biggest leadership challenge?
Best regards, Brian
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