Where should leaders focus? It can be easy to get involved with a bit of everything that’s happening within your organisation. There’s a temptation to slice your time up and divide it evenly between every department or priority you have, but that’s rarely a good idea.
You should obviously focus on the areas that match your skill set, and where you can add the greatest value. For some that might be in marketing, for others new product development, for some developing new partnerships, for others delivering on some of your core products. You’ll probably not be good at all of these, so try to focus your time on the areas of your strengths.
But are there things that all good leaders focus their time on? John Maxwell suggests there are three areas that leaders should never lose sight of:
Planning: This should always be a key area of focus. If you don’t know where the organisation is headed (and that includes long-term, medium-term and short-term) how can you expect others to know what direction they should be pulling? It’s up to you ultimately to ensure the vision and the strategy is clear, and also that the day-to-day or week-to-week activities are matching up to those plans. So planning is an area good leaders always keep an eye on.
Personnel: The quality of your organisation and its work is directly correlated to the quality of the people you have on board. So it’s critical that leaders create an environment that can consistently recruit and retain good quality people. The smaller your organisation, or the more senior the appointments, the greater the say you should exercise in personnel decisions, so you can ensure you’re attracting and recruiting people who will help push the organisation in the right direction.
Finance: Whatever you’re doing requires money to keep the whole show on the road. And when the money runs out, everything you want to achieve runs out the door too. Keeping an eye on the financial situation is therefore crucial for any leader. You may not be the one who is responsible for generating the new funds coming in, and you certainly don’t need to be the person who always supervises the accounts. But you should always know a) how much money you’ve got in the bank, b) how much money you’ve got coming in and out each month, and c) what your plan is if you get into a financial hole. Without that knowledge, you can’t effectively lead the organisation.
So where should leaders focus? On planning, on personal, and on finance, and then on whatever your strengths are that add most value to the organisation.
Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.