Another way to put this is that leaders far too frequently bite off more than they, or those they lead, can chew. Lack of priorities can take several forms, such as:
- Overwhelming their staffs with competing initiatives
- Leading projects with “scope creep” that end up devouring time and resources way beyond what was anticipated, funded or staffed
- Asking others to “do more with less” until, inevitably, human capacity is truly overwhelmed.
Goals are often tangible—profits, products, student learning targets, or implementation of strategies. Priorities are things such as professional development, staff relationships, accountability, autonomy, consistency in policy, and so on. And we can only concentrate on so many of them. Not setting priorities is similar to playing poker–you won’t have as much control as you like over the cards you’re dealt.
When I coach for intentional leadership, I start by asking leaders to sort their priorities. We then map those priorities onto essential tasks of leadership and compare the patterns to the leader’s natural strengths and equally natural blind spots. Are they focused on the right priorities for the situation, including their current goals?
Now there are three ways to sort your intentional leadership priorities:
- Use the exercise provided in the book (included in the first chapter, part of the amazon.com free downoad)
- Work with an Intentional Leadership Coach
- Use the Leadership Priority Cards–hot off the press and available through me. When you use these cards, though, you’ll be able to choose your ideal hand–and move toward your goals.
Why the cards? All learning styles benefit from the tactile use of cards. As a coach, you can observe