The Right Approach: The Law of Priorities

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Good leadership always makes a difference; unfortunately, so does bad leadership. This leadership truth continues as we will be talking about Law 17 of the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

The Three Rs
To understand the Law of Priorities, there are three questions to ask yourself and that must be embraced during the journey to become a great leader. They are:

1. What is required that only I can do?

No matter how high up you are in the leadership food chain, we are all accountable to someone. We also have responsibility to the important people in our lives, like our spouse, parents, children. All these people influence how we prioritize the things in our lives, and any list of priorities must start with what is required from us.

Williams_March_Figure_1.jpgHere’s how to use it: if you’re doing something that’s not necessary, you should eliminate it. If you’re doing something that’s necessary but does not need to be necessarily done by you, delegate it. The longer you use the Law of Priorities, the shorter your “to do” list should be.

2. What gives you the greatest return?

As a leader, you should spend most of your time working in your areas of greatest strength, a lesson that often gets lost with many leaders. While it’s key to get out of your comfort zone occasionally, do it within your area of strength. A great basketball player should be focusing on basketball, not trying to improve baseball skills (channel Michael Jordan). We all use the 80/20 rule in our businesses, but it applies equally to leadership. Basically, it says that 80% of your activities will create 20% of your results and 20% of your activities create 80% of your results. The key is to identify 20% of your activities that bring you the highest return on investment, focus on them, and delegate the 80%. Now let’s expand on this principle; if there’s something on your list that can be done at least 80% as well by someone else, give it to them. The magic of this is that once they learn it and improve, they might be able to do it better and faster than yourself.

It’s important to keep in mind that just because you can do something does not mean that you should do it. Remember, activity is not necessarily accomplishment.

3. What brings you the greatest reward?

This final question relates to personal satisfaction. The older I get, the more I realize that life is too short not to do the things you love. I love reading, training, and empowering others. I also enjoy improving systems and overall organizational performance. Another joy of my life is to spend time with my family. I love to travel and connect with people (not too often, though, as I value my alone time). All these things energize me and allow me to maintain a high level of passion for the important things in my life.

The bottom line: Prioritize your tasks by following the three steps listed above. Once you understand what your focus is, you will be able to prioritize your “to do” list and make things happen faster. The best leaders can satisfy multiple priorities with each activity, which enables them to increase their focus while reducing their number of actions. This might be an easier journey for some and harder for others.

Follow these guidelines and the Law of Priorities and you will truly be surprised at the results. Focus on enhancing your leadership skills to lead by example and the results will be epic.

Steve Williams is an independent certified coach, trainer, and speaker with the John Maxwell team. 

This column originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of PCB007 Magazine.



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