Urgent or Important?

behavior change clear expectations culture discipline habits investment leadership culture leadership development performance priorities productivity return on investment sustainability the impact of leadership on organizational performance Sep 02, 2022
The Impact of Leadership on Organizational Performance

If we really want our investment into leadership development to make a visible difference on productivity over the long haul, there’s a hurdle we cannot afford to stumble over! Even after making sure expectations have been clearly communicated and the necessary support has been provided to initiate real behavioral change, I’ve seen more organizations get tripped up by this one thing that likely all other obstacles combined… What’s that one thing?

Consider this scenario before I spell it out… You’re knee-deep in a task that needs to be done by the end of the day when your phone rings. It’s one of your key team members asking you to help them work through an issue that will only take a few minutes. As a leader, you’re responsible for supporting your team so you stop what you’re doing to give them a hand. You got stopped twice on the way there, then pulled away once more while you’re attempting to help them. By the time you’ve been able to work through the issue that only took a few minutes, an hour and a half is gone. As you go back to your desk to pick up where you left off on your own project (that’s still due to go out by the end of the day), you’re pulled away once more for something that has to have your attention RIGHT NOW… Not a big deal though, only two hours have passed. You still have time - until the next urgent need pops up, then the next. At 4pm when most everyone is shutting down for the day, you’re finally able to close your door and silence the phone so you can make one last push to get your project wrapped up before the deadline. That’s when you realize you have a board meeting at 5pm and a 30 minute drive to get there…

When that project you need to get done is for a customer, or has some other type of traditional payout tied to it, I’d guess any of us would be likely to push some of those distractions aside throughout the day to make sure it got done. The challenge I’ve seen all too often with leadership development has been where all the busy-ness that comes with those daily distractions tend to stop the new behaviors we’re working to implement dead in their tracks! The urgent derails the important…

If we truly want to capture that productivity and profitability that we’re losing in so many areas of our budget, by simply shifting some investment to developing the leaders on our teams, we’ve got to make sure blocking the time for training is important to everyone involved but we also need to prioritize every step of the development process that follows so habits can be formed and the culture we’re working to create can be sustained! We all have the same amount of time each day. The long term results we achieve will depend on the things we give that time too… Will that be the busy-ness of the urgent or the importance of capturing that lost profitability through an investment in developing your leaders?