All of us find ignoring feedback quite easy—all too often the source doesn’t really understand the situation, or your intentions, or how different your needs are from others, right? Ignoring results on many psychological assessments or instruments can be easy,…
I recently heard of a school district with five hundred initiatives underway right now. They’re proud of it–they’re reaching out to students at risk for dropping out, targeting STEM enrichment, working on literacy, increasing coaching capacity, and so on.
The problem? No change effort can be focused in 500 different directions. Right now, things are falling by the wayside–and the district leadership probably doesn’t know what is and isn’t being done. Somewhere down in the ranks, people are deciding, whether consciously or unconsciously, what they will actually accomplish.
It may be what seems most urgent to them. Or what best fits their current skills. Or what is easiest. Or what the person above them is screaming for.
Chances are, though, it isn’t what the leaders at the top consider most important. Why?
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